A very green gardener

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by b1vrkz35, Oct 27, 2004.

  1. b1vrkz35

    b1vrkz35 Member

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    Location:
    london, ontario
    Hi! My name is Aurora from London, Ontario. I've read so many interesting stuff from the forum that I feel comfortable fielding a question or two to our knowledgeable gardeners.

    I'm stumped about mulches. I am considering applying mulch on my perrenial beds and borders to reduce weeds as I don't have much time to be weeding all the time.

    My questions are:

    1. These decorative mulches stay on the beds so how do I get the fertilizer to the roots of the plants?
    2. If I use the liquid fertilizer (the ones that's attached to the hose), will the nutrients penetrate through the mulch?

    Any ideas will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you in advance!
    Aurora
     
  2. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    As for mulches, I have been using a product called compost bark mulch, it is available here via fraser richmond bio-cycle. It is a bark mulch that is chipped fine and then let to sit for a few months or so to go through the beginning stages of composting. It seems to help with weed reduction (reduced re-emergence) and I figure it has some nutritional value due to the fact that it is a compost prouct. Liquid nutrients will penetrate mulches and soils depending on the amount of water they are applied with, the more water, the deeper they go. Dry nutrients generally dissolve in water and the same theory goes.

    my 2 cents.
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Mulch with wood chips from a tree service. Fertilize with granular fertilizer, if necessary, after sampling your soil and having it tested. Base selection of fertilizer on soil report.
     
  4. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    Check the origin of mulch chips

    Tree service guys can be a great source for mulching chips, and most will take care to sort the waste products that go into the chipper, but I had one load from a fellow that was also doing a road edge cleanup contract and didn't bother to dump a partial load from the day before. Around here road edge often means Scotch Broom!
    Fortunately we noticed the fragments of Broom on the dumped pile, but what a disaster if we had not.
    Our mulching sequence (which seems to work fairly well) is cut up cardboard about 4 or 5 layers, hosing to soak as it is applied, followed by 4 to 6 inches of hardwood (like alder) chips. This supressed weeds almost 100% for over a year and still very effective beyond that. It's easy to dig thru for further planting, and the only downside we noticed was that for the first several months the cardboard layer could be very slippery when wet.
    I think it's reasonable to expect the layered cardboard to act like a thatched roof initially, so you have to allow for that when watering.
     
  5. fourd

    fourd Active Member 10 Years

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    To answer your question, mulch (good mulch that is) doesn't prevent the flow of water or air (oxygen and nitrogen) to the soil surface. It restrict evaporation so helps moisture in which is one big advantage. When you water with a liquid fertilizer, the water penetrates the mulch to the soil and the water dilivers the food to the plants. Solid fertilizer is slow release and needs water; however the surface of the mulch is dry so it is best to put solid fertalizer down befor the mulch <OR> be carefull to mix it in and not disturb any shallow roots. Either way water is needed to carry the food to the plants roots. That was water part, so, now the root area also needs Oxygen and Nitrogen from Air. Some mulches like bark are very slow to decay but also tends to wash out during heavy rains (that is they take and give very little). Other like popular hardwood mulch decay faster and needs to be added every year as they decay. This decay needs nitrogen that is also needed by the plants so nitrogen should be added initially to rectify this. decay puts nitrogen and other foods back into the soil so other then a little nitro when I put down fresh mulch, I don't really don't fertilize as it is a natural process.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Shredded broom plants wouldn't sprout much, if at all. Brooms reproduce from seed in the wild.

    Granular fertilizer doesn't need to be incorporated.
     
  7. fourd

    fourd Active Member 10 Years

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    Also Ron mention having your soil tested. Soil varies from spot to spot and different plants have diferent requirements. I think it is a good thing to learn to test the soil yourself as the equipment is neither too expensive not too dificult. Electronic probes can test moisture, acidity, nitrogen and even light ... various other test-tube like kits test fertility and are easy to use. A lost prize plant can easily be more expensive then the testing.
    For example, take a simple glass jar, fill 1/4 with dirt, fill rest with water shake till liquid. Then let it set. what settles to the bottom in 5 minutes is your sand (mark it) what settles in the next hour is silt (mark it) and what settles overnight is clay with the particles on very top being organics. The only easier test I can think of is just grabing a handfull of moist dirt and giving it a squize. Now I wont go so far tasting your soil -- that is what the test kit are for!
     

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