All Things Gardening forum: When should I mulch?

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Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Dec 9, 2014 9:45 AM CST
Ideally, I like to mulch in fall or early winter after the ground freezes, especially when I've planted bulbs, Peonies, and Irises, to lessen heaving. I also like to keep the soil cool to keep some plants from sprouting too early. The problem is, the soil doesn't always freeze here. Most years it does, but sometimes not till late winter. This has been a colder autumn than usual, so I'm wondering if the soil is cold enough go ahead and mulch? I don't want to trap in warmth and stimulate early growth, but I would love to mulch some areas where lamium and peppergrass seedlings are germinating in masses.

I typically add some mulch in spring too, but I'm unsure how I should proceed for now?
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Dec 9, 2014 9:56 AM CST
I mulch when there are lots of fallen oak leaves. I never even considered whether the ground was frozen or not. Perhaps I'm doing it all wrong. Sticking tongue out
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Dec 9, 2014 10:20 AM CST
Ken, I think that is good practice in your zone. Does your soil typically freeze in winter? Kentucky is so fickle, sometimes feels more southern, sometimes more northern. Leaves me scratching my head as to which method to follow.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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pirl
Dec 9, 2014 10:20 AM CST
Then it's both of us, Ken. I mulch as I finish cutting back each garden. It gives me the satisfaction of knowing each garden is done, one by one.
Name: Betty
MN zone 4
Frogs and Toads Birds Roses Region: United States of America Peonies Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
Lilies Irises Hummingbirder Hostas Garden Art Echinacea
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daylilydreams
Dec 9, 2014 10:28 AM CST
I do the same as Ken, when the leaves fall they go on the garden. I have done this for years everything does well with no problems. I have always heard to wait until the ground freezes. Mother nature drops leaves on the garden before it freezes, I just add some more who want to be out there in freezing temperatures.
If you want to be happy for a lifetime plant a garden!
Faith is the postage stamp on our prayers!
Betty MN Zone4 AHS member

Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Dec 9, 2014 10:30 AM CST
We have had a few years out of the last three decades when the temperature never got out of the 20's for 3-4 days. I guess our ground may have frozen a few inches deep then. Normally, the ground doesn't freeze though. I can't even imagine the best mulching would keep the ground from freezing in really prolonged, sub-freezing temperatures.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Dec 9, 2014 10:34 AM CST
I think you all have provided the perfect answer- do what Mother Nature does- Thanks! Why didn't I think of that? LOL

Considering that it works well in zones above and below me, north and south of me, I'm not so concerned now. And considering how many years I've left the leaves on until spring, I realize it won't be much different.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Dec 9, 2014 10:35 AM CST
Thumbs up
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Betty
MN zone 4
Frogs and Toads Birds Roses Region: United States of America Peonies Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
Lilies Irises Hummingbirder Hostas Garden Art Echinacea
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daylilydreams
Dec 9, 2014 10:49 AM CST
I never remove the leaves from my garden they help hold in moisture and assist with keeping the weeds in check plus they add fertilizer to the garden.
If you want to be happy for a lifetime plant a garden!
Faith is the postage stamp on our prayers!
Betty MN Zone4 AHS member

Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Dec 9, 2014 11:07 AM CST
Great point, Betty!
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Dec 9, 2014 11:23 AM CST
This year I raked them out, mulched them up with the mower/bagger, and put them in the compost pile. I had too much green compost and wanted to balance it out with the leaves. I have leaves from Silver Maple and Sycamore. The maple leaves are small and I leave them in some spots, but the Sycamore leaves are big and trashy. One year I had left them on the beds, and in spring found that rodents had been living and nesting under the layers, and had fattened up on Lily bulbs too.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Betty
MN zone 4
Frogs and Toads Birds Roses Region: United States of America Peonies Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
Lilies Irises Hummingbirder Hostas Garden Art Echinacea
Image
daylilydreams
Dec 9, 2014 11:30 AM CST
We pick up our leaves with a lawn tractor that has a grass/leaf pickup attachment, so the leaves are shredded before they go on the garden except for those that fall on the garden. The only critter I have ever found in our garden was a rabbit that had nested in the garden. Never had a rodent problem here thank goodness.

If you want to be happy for a lifetime plant a garden!
Faith is the postage stamp on our prayers!
Betty MN Zone4 AHS member

Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Dec 9, 2014 11:34 AM CST
Betty, it was funny, after mulching and bagging the first bit, I stood there for a few minutes going back and forth whether to put them right back on the garden or in the compost. I still have a bed in the back yard to do, I think I will just put them back on there.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Dec 9, 2014 11:36 AM CST
Always take the option to do it the easy way when you have that choice.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Dec 9, 2014 12:28 PM CST
I blow a lot of the oak leaves into the landscape beds. I blow a good bit of leaves into a long, thick row in the middle of the yard and then mulch those with my lawnmower/bagger. Those will either go into my raised garden or into my compost pile. My next door neighbor also has lots of oaks and since he bags those leaves up each fall and puts them out at the curb for pickup, I tell him to leave some bags at our property line. I will use his leaves. Why have them go to waste?
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Dec 9, 2014 12:37 PM CST
Neal ...

>>>>in spring found that rodents had been living and nesting under the layers, and had fattened up on Lily bulbs too.

From what I have read, my ground doesn't freeze, this is the only reason for holding off mulching until after the first freeze. The rodents have found other places to over winter than your mulched beds.

Putting down mulch after the first freeze is not going to impact soil temperature that quickly, but waiting forces rodents and such to find different places to keep warm during the winter.

Works for bears and yellow jackets, too ... Hilarious!

Smiles,
Lyn

I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Dec 9, 2014 12:40 PM CST
We don't have bears, Hurray! but have yellow jackets. In fact, our high school team's nickname is "Yellow Jackets".
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Dec 9, 2014 12:41 PM CST
Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing I tip my hat to you.

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Vickie
Elberfeld, Indiana, USA (Zone 6b)
Bee Lover Garden Photography Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Region: United States of America
Region: Indiana Garden Art Annuals Clematis Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 2
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blue23rose
Dec 9, 2014 12:47 PM CST
That's a great suggestion, Lyn. I don't remember having a rodent problem (YUK!), but the oak leaves get knee deep in some areas of my flower beds that I remove some of them in the spring to wake everything up. Maybe I should remove some leaves in the fall instead so I don't get rodents Smiling

I usually mulch as needed in spots in spring and fall as I get the chance, rarely all at one time in the fall. Never in winter (I hate getting out in the cold!). Last winter was very hard and I was concerned for my daylilies, but for the most part they came through okay.
Vickie
May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Dec 9, 2014 1:43 PM CST
I think it was the combination of circumstances that created the perfect rodent home- a thick, thatched "roof" of big, sturdy Sycamore leaves, and a bunch of Lily bulbs. I also think we had a mild winter that year too. Most lawn trees have smaller leaves that aren't so problematic.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi

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