Northern Gardening forum: Use of mulch ?

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Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Clematis Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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canadanna
May 21, 2015 6:32 PM CST
I am originally from Montreal, and while chatting with a friend from there, I asked if she put down mulch after cleaning up the beds. I moved 20 years ago, and at that time it wasn't very popular, except for putting decorative bark.
Thought I would ask the experts.
Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
Irises Lilies Hostas Ferns Composter Region: Belgium
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Arico
May 22, 2015 3:21 AM CST
Adding a mulch has its advantages in any kind of climate. In colder periods it insulates the soil during the winter months and in warmer periods it stops the soil from drying out by sealing in the moisture. It keeps weeds at bay by blocking out the light and any that do get a hold are easily removed 'cause they're rooted in the loose mulch.
All kinds of invertebrates, fungi and bacteria live and feed in the mulch slowly releasing nutrients creating a balanced ecosystem and adding to the survival of your plants. Plus, any organic mulch will with the help of those organisms improve the soil over time as an added bonus.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
May 22, 2015 9:58 PM CST
Lee-roy. I put a thick layer of much out last fall and have weeds growing under it. If I don't disturb the mulch will the weeds die underneath?
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
Irises Lilies Hostas Ferns Composter Region: Belgium
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Arico
May 23, 2015 1:38 PM CST
If they don't get to the light in time they'll starve to death. But as usual there are always exceptions and some make it through. I wouldn't try to disturb it too much. If they do come through just rip them out.

I myself put down a mulch this spring, but not nearly thick enough, so I have teeny tiny seedlings of whatever shooting up on a daily basis. I just use my fingers as a rake and they're uprooted to dry out in the sun.
Name: Jason
Gold Bar, Washington (Zone 8b)
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riverman123
May 25, 2015 6:22 PM CST
we don't use mulch in our shade gardens. they stay plenty moist on their own since so little of the soil is exposed. and since 99% of weeds need direct sunlight to germinate, weeds in our shady areas are not a concern. but we do use it in our full sun beds. it helps with weed control and it also helps keep the top few inches of soil from drying out. it also looks nice as well!
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
May 26, 2015 4:46 PM CST
I use a LOT of grass clippings from the lawn on my veg garden... I put it on in relatively thin layers so it dries out, but by the end of the summer have a pretty good amount everywhere. It helps keep the moisture from evaporating, keeps the soil from splashing up on the plants when it rains, suppresses the weeds (the ones that do grow are a lot easier to pull), and is much cleaner for walking around in the garden. Plus, I've added a great deal of organic material to my garden over the years by doing this, making the worms really happy and vastly improving the drainage of the soil.

In my ornamental beds, even the shady ones, I use a shredded white cedar mulch (which is produced locally) -- I like the way it looks, and again it does a great job of suppressing the weeds. Which is definitely not to say it eliminates weeds... but it helps!
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Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Jun 1, 2015 8:50 AM CST
So do the perennials just grow through the mulch. I should have left mine on. But if the weeds die for lack of sun, wouldn't the perennials die also.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Anderwood
Jun 8, 2015 4:34 AM CST
The best mulch out there is shredded fall leaves, and compost. In the winter I pick up leaves from the side of the road. I add a two inch layer to everything, and then fill my compost bins. By mid April, the leaves are almost done composting. I add two inches over everything. This is the only food my plants need.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Jun 8, 2015 9:55 AM CST
Ah. So the trick is to shred the leaves. We ran some tree trimmings (small stuff) through our grinder but it doesn't compost very well and makes for a messy looking garden. This year I will grind the leaves well and skip the woody stuff. I have two turning compost drums but truly they haven't composted a thing. I am pretty sure I am doing it wrong. I keep adding stuff when I should just leave them be to turn into compost.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Anderwood
Jun 11, 2015 10:25 AM CST
@Oberon46 I also add coffee grounds. Starbucks will collect for you if you give them a bucket. They are a good nitrogen source. They make up about 1/4 of the mixture. Kitchen scraps have very little nutrition. You can have some of those in there, but it is best to vermipost those.

The perennials are more able to push through the mulch, especially if you mulch with shredded leaves. I mulched with shredded leaves last fall, and this year it is more vigorous than ever. I spread a very thin layer of compost on them this spring. Here are some pics. Feel free to ask more questions.

Thumb of 2015-06-11/Anderwood/c9740a


Thumb of 2015-06-11/Anderwood/90b6cc

Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Jun 11, 2015 11:25 AM CST
I had leaves dumped on several of my beds without first shredding. Not a good idea. They formed a pretty solid mat on top of the plants. Won't do that again Where we shredded the leaves first it worked much better. I am rather lax on the overall fertilizing. I have two azaleas and one rhody that really need coffee grounds and an acid based fert for them. My soil is on the acid side anyway though.

I appreciate the information. Will do better this fall. Thumbs up
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)

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