Vegetables and Fruit forum: Mulch, thoughts?

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Name: Tracy
Bryan Texas (Zone 8b)
Gardening, excuse to play in dirt!
Vegetable Grower Keeper of Poultry Region: Texas Bee Lover Herbs Winter Sowing
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NakedChickenFarm
Apr 17, 2018 11:03 PM CST
For growing vegetables...
I have used typical landscaping mulch in the past, wood product, dark colored. I have tried red mulch for tomatoes as the red is supposed to reflect the right light color. Dont know if it helped as im not very good with tomatoes. Havent tried black plastic as i dont like the look.

Last year was my first attempt at garlic and i read that here in the heat of the south you can keep the bulbs cooler by using light colored straw which reflects the heat. I had a bed that was half garlic and half onion so i mulched the whole bed with straw. Had another onion bed that i didnt mulch. The mulched onions where the biggest i have ever grown. I understand there could be many factors involved, but i decided to use more straw this year. Im thinking that it might reduce the stress caused by hot Texas springs and summers. Any thoughts? What works best for you?
Name: Chris
Hermann, MO (Zone 6a)
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FoolOnTheHill
Apr 18, 2018 7:13 AM CST
I mulch edibles with straw and grass clippings. I never use wood mulch, especially colored, because I worry about ingredients in there that I wouldn't want in my food. I garden organically, though, so I err on the side of caution.

We do have a lot of woody yard waste that we chip ourselves, so I use that on ornamentals after letting it sit for a while so it breaks down. I don't use this on the garden, though, as I also find I prefer how fast water flows through to veggies roots when I've just used straw and grass clippings.
[Last edited by FoolOnTheHill - Apr 18, 2018 7:47 AM (+)]
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Apr 18, 2018 12:03 PM CST
As Chris mentioned, I don't trust colored bark either.
Any color of plastic. Yikes !😮😭!!! Your going to cook the soil and roots.
A good couple to three inches of wood chips, mulch, or compost, all keep soil cooler.
It seams to reason that straw or newspaper would keep ground cooler than aforementioned.
I wonder if any tests have been done to determine, which of the five do best ???

You can get wood chips free, by googling : free wood chips.

Newspaper is Ok to use, as long as newspaper uses organic ink. Call the newspaper, and ask them, most all use organic ink. But ! Don't use the shiny ads.

Well 😀 Did I tell you enough ?👍

Have a wunderfull wunderfull 😀!!!
Philip 😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
East Texas (Zone 8b)
LuisaC
Apr 19, 2018 11:50 AM CST
Dear Tracy,
Agreed, the plastic would cook your soil. I live in East texas and based on my little experience, when they say full sun on the plant tags, they DO NOT intend the Texas sun at 5 o clock in the afternoon! A little bit of shade for any plant would be well received.
I have read that mulching with pine needles and oak leaves gives the soil too much acidity.
True or false? Does anybody know? I am confused about it.
Thanks.
John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Name: Tracy
Bryan Texas (Zone 8b)
Gardening, excuse to play in dirt!
Vegetable Grower Keeper of Poultry Region: Texas Bee Lover Herbs Winter Sowing
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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NakedChickenFarm
Apr 19, 2018 12:59 PM CST
LuisaC said:Dear Tracy,
Agreed, the plastic would cook your soil. I live in East texas and based on my little experience, when they say full sun on the plant tags, they DO NOT intend the Texas sun at 5 o clock in the afternoon! A little bit of shade for any plant would be well received.
I have read that mulching with pine needles and oak leaves gives the soil too much acidity.
True or false? Does anybody know? I am confused about it.
Thanks.


I think if you were planting things that like acid, like blueberries, it would be great. No pine needles where i live and not enough oak leaves to make the effort.

For those who use grass clipping do you have much trouble with grass seeds?

My yard is basically mowed pasture. So it has a little bit of everything. I have a sweeper i can tow behind my mower and i give my chickens a ton of grass clipping. Somes several inches deep. They scratch and eat the seeds and after a few months i have the best compost ever. Have rabbits cages over the same area so the chickens scratch their poo too. Smiling
Name: Chris
Hermann, MO (Zone 6a)
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FoolOnTheHill
Apr 19, 2018 9:57 PM CST
I have more weed seeds in my grass clippings than grass seeds. My yard is organic, and I honestly don't sweat most weeds. I'm no Hank Hill, I guess. Shrug! My Dad usually comments something to the effect that weeds just don't seem to bother me. Yep, they don't. The clover attracts lots of honey bees, but mostly I just don't fight it. So, anyway, yeah, I get weed seeds, although some may be dropped off by birds and wind, too. Where the mulch is deep enough, they don't seem to take hold, and a quick hoeing knocks out the few that make a valiant effort. Also, I don't have a huge garden -- just personal use, not market -- so I can tend it.

Having chickens to eat the weed seeds is excellent. I tip my hat to you. We're considering getting backyard chickens, but have so much else taking our time that we haven't wanted to commit to that, yet. I envy your compost, for sure!
Name: Tracy
Bryan Texas (Zone 8b)
Gardening, excuse to play in dirt!
Vegetable Grower Keeper of Poultry Region: Texas Bee Lover Herbs Winter Sowing
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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NakedChickenFarm
Apr 19, 2018 10:42 PM CST
Chickens, if you have a good place for them, are pretty low maintenance. They really dont care about you and if they have plenty of food and water they are happy. The real time and investment is in making sure the home is predator proof. But we love 'em. Have a rooster with 10 wives. Get 7-9 eggs per day.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
May 6, 2018 2:38 PM CST
I just called up Agway (farm store) the other day and ordered 6 bales of Straw to be delivered. Makes great and easy to use mulch for the veggie garden. Plus it looks so nice once it is done.
[Last edited by Newyorkrita - May 6, 2018 2:47 PM (+)]
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Name: Paul Fish
Brownville, Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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PaulF
May 6, 2018 5:30 PM CST
Newyorkrita said:I just called up Agway (farm store) the other day and ordered 6 bales of Straw to be delivered. Makes great and easy to use mulch for the veggie garden. Plus it looks so nice once it is done.


I also use straw as mulch in the vegetable garden. For a weed barrier I put down a couple of layers of newspaper. Since I have a connection at the local newspaper, I get end rolls, 36 inches wide and usually between 50 and 75 feet long on a roll. Easy to roll out a couple of layers and then put about 6-8 inches of straw on top. Water goes through the straw and paper, the mulch keeps the soil cooler and holds in moisture. Looks good and works great.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
May 6, 2018 5:31 PM CST
PaulF said:

I also use straw as mulch in the vegetable garden. For a weed barrier I put down a couple of layers of newspaper. Since I have a connection at the local newspaper, I get end rolls, 36 inches wide and usually between 50 and 75 feet long on a roll. Easy to roll out a couple of layers and then put about 6-8 inches of straw on top. Water goes through the straw and paper, the mulch keeps the soil cooler and holds in moisture. Looks good and works great.


I just use saved up newspapers!!!
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
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Intheswamp
May 9, 2018 6:23 AM CST
LuisaC said:Dear Tracy,
Agreed, the plastic would cook your soil. I live in East texas and based on my little experience, when they say full sun on the plant tags, they DO NOT intend the Texas sun at 5 o clock in the afternoon! A little bit of shade for any plant would be well received.
I have read that mulching with pine needles and oak leaves gives the soil too much acidity.
True or false? Does anybody know? I am confused about it.
Thanks.

@LuisaC , I'm a rookie gardener so take this with a rookie grain of salt. nodding

I used pine straw on one of my 3'x50' rows last year as mulch. Over the winter I piled up red oak and white oak leaves a foot or so deep on the garden (roughly 25'x50') (lots of raking and hauling!!! nodding ). I tilled everything in in early spring. Last year Auburn University lab tests showed the pH in the garden to be 5.5 and I applied lime. This year AU reported a pH of 5.9. I don't think the oak leaves or pine straw significantly affected the pH. FWIW. Smiling The leaves broke down very nicely and now I only see acorn caps occasionally and larger twigs.

Best wishes,
Ed
"My old socks smell like cilantro..."
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
[Last edited by Intheswamp - May 9, 2018 6:26 AM (+)]
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Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
May 9, 2018 12:35 PM CST
The acidifying of soil by pine needles and oak leaves is an old wives tale.
If that were a fact, people with too base of a soil could simply add pine needles and oak leaves, it does not work.
East Texas (Zone 8b)
LuisaC
May 13, 2018 12:41 PM CST
Thank you guys, Ed and RpR,
I also am a rookie gardener, unfortunately I don't have much time to spend in my garden and learn. I am glad to hear that ph won't be that easy to change, so, i will use some of those live oak leaves that i get. Plenty of pine needles around here too!
thank you gardeners! Hurray!
John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
May 13, 2018 1:11 PM CST
LuisaC said:Thank you guys, Ed and RpR,
I also am a rookie gardener, unfortunately I don't have much time to spend in my garden and learn. I am glad to hear that ph won't be that easy to change, so, i will use some of those live oak leaves that i get. Plenty of pine needles around here too!
thank you gardeners! Hurray!


I use oak leaves as mulch all the time. Doesn't do anything except what you would expect from mulch.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
May 15, 2018 12:08 PM CST
I am mulching my veggie garden today. Not that I will get it all done.

Anyway, use layers of newspaper between rows and between tomato plants and then put straw on top. It smothers any weeds, keeps the moisture in and it really does look so nice after it is all done.
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
May 15, 2018 2:05 PM CST
I am also... I'm using pine straw. It is earlier than I normally do but we are ever so dry. Hopefully it will help retain the soil moisture.

By the weekend they are forecasting temps of 98 ~ 99 degrees. Perhaps it will also keep the ground temps cooler.

And I agree, it does look really nice. The green foliage pops against the rusty color of pine straw.
Be content moving inch by inch because, by days end, the inches, will add up to feet and yards.

Fulfilling ambitious objectives is usually done one step at a time.
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
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Intheswamp
May 15, 2018 2:13 PM CST
How many sheets of newspaper do ya'll use?
"My old socks smell like cilantro..."
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Bromeliad Butterflies Canning and food preservation Bulbs Birds Vermiculture
Dog Lover Cat Lover Winter Sowing Bookworm Ponds Vegetable Grower
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pod
May 15, 2018 2:16 PM CST
I'll leave that to Rita. I don't use newspaper. Only pinestraw.
Be content moving inch by inch because, by days end, the inches, will add up to feet and yards.

Fulfilling ambitious objectives is usually done one step at a time.
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
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Intheswamp
May 15, 2018 2:32 PM CST
I used pinestraw last year beneath my tomato plants. It shades the ground and definitely helps keep muddy water from splashing up on them. But, through the years I've became aware of something. South of us is an area that is very rural. At one time there were thousands of acres of hardwood forests there. The paper companies came in and clearcut probably 95% of it. They came back and planted plantation pines. What I've discovered is that those plantations are DRY. The hardwoods would put a layer of leaves down and even on a hilltop if you started kicking the leaves aside you'd find some moisture down there. With pine trees growing there now I can kick the pine needles aside all I want to and it's dust...just dust. I guess the matting down aspect of those hardwood leaves helped seal in the moisture or something. Even close to the creeks and rivers the same thing happens...it'll be dry beneath the pines. But, pinestraw does work in the gardens to shade the ground...just not sure about it's moisture retaining capabilities other than what the shade gives, though. I hated to see all those hardwood forests mowed down. Crying I could get into a rant about how we're treating the rock we live on, but I'd better not.... Smiling

Kristi, do you compost? I'm curious being as a compost pile just seems to be a fireant hotel for me. I'd be scared to lay cardboard down on the ground to smother weeds for the same reason. I'm a little hesitant on using Gardening in the south has it's thrills, eh?
"My old socks smell like cilantro..."
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Bromeliad Butterflies Canning and food preservation Bulbs Birds Vermiculture
Dog Lover Cat Lover Winter Sowing Bookworm Ponds Vegetable Grower
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pod
May 15, 2018 2:44 PM CST
I have managed to keep the ants at bay. Yes, I compost but am a smaller gardener than you guys are. I bury trimmings in the beds and if a bed lays dormant I toss on top and turn in later.

You won't ever eliminate fire ants but you can keep them moving on. They can't use serious chemicals on the sports fields at school so I asked the groundskeeper what they used for fireants. He said Comet or Ajax. All it does is drive them out of an area. That is all I ask from them in my garden and yard too.

I won't argue about the moisture under pines but suspect the pines are planted thickly and leach more moisture out of the soil. Perhaps more so than the hardwoods. We saw the same thing here and there was much environmental damage caused by clearcutting. Also girdling the hardwoods to kill them. My place is a nice mix of hardwood and pine and is able to support lots of wildlife. I hope to leave it that way!

In my experience as long as the pinestraw doesn't become compacted, it will allow moisture to drain through to the soil.
Be content moving inch by inch because, by days end, the inches, will add up to feet and yards.

Fulfilling ambitious objectives is usually done one step at a time.

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