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Hampton NH
jmkk
Jun 7, 2020 5:23 AM CST
I mulch my beds with salt marsh hay during the growing season and I leave it in place over winter. In the spring there is an additional layer of leaves and pine needles. I am wary of leaving these layers in place since every year my garden is afflicted with powdery mildew, aphids, squash vine borers, etal. This layer can become rather thick as well. Therefore, I have been removing it in the spring before turning the soil, adding compost and applying a new layer of salt marsh hay. I have been tempted to work it into the soil, but do not want to keep the potentially diseased material and insect larva. Would you advocate just putting a new layer of compost on top of it all and fresh hay?
Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
Irises Lilies Hostas Ferns Composter Region: Belgium
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: Europe
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Arico
Jun 7, 2020 5:41 AM CST
Powdery mildew is usually non-lethal to plants and occurs in dry weather, so the remedy is to keep your plants hydrated. Aphids don't usually survive the winter as adults, but as eggs laid on their host plant (bark crevices, between bud leaves etc) so not much you can do about this either.

Although thick mulch CAN harbor pests, it's also a home for the predators of these pests.

Good cultural practices (watering/feeding, planting distance) and selecting resistant varieties goes a long way to preventing severe pest outbreaks.
Hampton NH
jmkk
Jun 7, 2020 8:08 AM CST
PM usually shows up in August for me. On the contrary the conditions PM likes hot days and humid nights. My plants are well hydrated so that is not the issue. I have read the spores can remain in the soil for years which is why I remove the previous mulch and winter debris in the spring. I will investigate resistant options in the future.

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