Crazy Gardener a question?

brieenSeptember 12, 2007

I was looking at your photo albums and I noticed that most of your plants are mulched. Would you mind telling me what it is you are using for mulch please. I cant decide if its straw or what it is. I plan to do more mulching next summer because its getting harder to keep up with the weeding and watering especialy when we get long periods of hot dry weather like we did this past summer. Thank you.

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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

Yes, it's straw, I use alot of it. Oh for sure, for sure, it really cuts down on the weeding and watering.

Sharon

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 3:14PM
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brieen

Do you shred it first somehow it looks like it has been chopped up shorter somehow. Or is that a dumb question.I have been using grass clippings because we have lots of grass to cut but find it can pack down or heat if you arent careful how much you put on.Your yard looks incredible.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 3:28PM
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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

Well thank you Brieen ;)

No, I lay it as is....it does break down in given time, maybe that's why it looks short. Every other year I will re-mulch.

As for grass clipping, find an area where you can let them dry or turn brown in piles before mulching your beds, this will keep it from heating up and compacting.

Sharon

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 4:06PM
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kioni(3)

Excuse me Brieen for 'butting' in on you, but I'd like to ask Crazy Gardener: Do you have any trouble with weeds when you use straw for mulch? I did it one year in my corn patch and seemed to have more weeds and although not bad to pull up amongst big corn plants, I wonder about flower beds. Also, being in the city, we were surprised with the amount of damaged cobs, and suspected the mice in the area found it perfect to hide under and nibble on the corn. Any other year I'd grown corn I didn't have any cobs damaged like the year we used straw mulch. Thanks you both, Brieen for the good question, CG for the answers!
~k~

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 7:15PM
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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

No weeds, the odd grain-grass pops up here or there but easy to pull. Perhaps you had hay which is full of weeds.

Mice are part of the norm living and gardening on a farm/ acreage. I have traps and now cats to control that. Besides I don't grow corn.

Try flax straw, apparently mice dislike flax straw and wonÂt set up shop in a flax straw mulch.

Sharon

    Bookmark   September 13, 2007 at 12:15AM
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prairierose

I use straw too. Remember to make sure that it's nice and thick, or the weeds will come through. It makes a huge difference in the amount of weeding and watering you have to do.
Connie

    Bookmark   September 13, 2007 at 12:10PM
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brieen

Does it matter what type of straw? Is one type of straw better than the other? wheat Barley Oats? I live in a rural area so pretty much anything is available. Does it lock up the nitrogen like I understand sawdust can do.Sorry for all the dumb questions.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2007 at 12:43PM
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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

I really don't think it matters what kind of straw, I'm just happy what I can get for free from the farmers around here. Yes, I'm sure there will be some nitrogen taken to break down straw but I have not seen any nitrogen starvation signs from my plants, most likely because I add aged manure and homemade compost to my beds.

Sharon

    Bookmark   September 13, 2007 at 4:13PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

I think sawdust and bark chips are the worst for nitrogen robbing - not so much straw.

Flax straw is great because it binds together and doesn't move around too much. I used it as winter mulch last year and it was easy to remove in the spring. I did get a fair amount of volunteer flax in the garden though. It seemed like there were chunks of straw that still had a lot of seed in. Maybe the farmer's equipment wasn't very good, who knows.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2007 at 5:26PM
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sierra_z2b

I have a question about using straw. I have used straw for winter protection for several years without any problems. The last couple of years, I haven't been able to get any. However this year it should be available again, so now I have some questions.....

Because I had that major vole problem last winter...I am wondering if adding straw to the garden is a good idea? Will this just make a nice place for them to build their little mouse homes and reproduce?

I have some plants that will need the winter protection. I also have some plants that arn't planted yet...that I plan on adding straw to protect.

Any thoughts on this????

Sierra

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 1:41PM
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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

Hard to say Sierra, I sure remember those photos of the damage you had last spring. (Shrug?) Did you get any traps or cats?

I also use dry loose straw to cover up border-line or late plantings. I wait till freeze up, around Halloween to cover plants.

Sharon

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 2:32AM
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valleyrimgirl(2b)

I have a pile of flax shives that I use for mulch. Mice do not like flax shives. I am hoping that voles won't also, and so, I am hoping that the perennials like the lily bulbs will be protected (at least from the top) from the voles by the flax I placed down this year. Last year I caught them just before freeze up coming into the lily patch and starting to burrow into each lily group to eat the bulbs. I only caught 3 of them but had no more damage once those three were caught. Last year there also was no flax covering on the lily patch.

Sierra, is there flax shives available in your area?

Brenda

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 6:43AM
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sierra_z2b

Yes we had to use traps for the mice, the sticky kind so that no other animals would get hurt with them.....there was way to many mice not to do something. There was at least one cat that spent most of the summer in the back area of my yard. I think that cat belongs to the neighbour or the house beside them, or it could be a stray, not really sure. I would never have an outdoor cat.

Brenda, I'm not sure what flax shives are? Is it just a type of straw? I only know of one store that sells straw and I usually just buy a bale or two of what they have.

The problem last year with the voles was that I didn't know they were there till spring and the damage was done. This year preventative measures are a must. Cleaning up the garden, keeping the grass short and so on. I have been watching for signs.....but haven't seen anything at all so far. I will be watching for signs till the snow flys.

Thanks,

Sierra

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 10:15AM
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valleyrimgirl(2b)

Sierra, when the flax gets combined there is straw left. Usually the farmers make bales and then the bales go to a processing plant. After the straw is processed there is a fine straw mulch (shives) that is left. There are no seeds in flax shives but there is in flax straw.

Here is the pile of flax shives at the end of the lane. The pile has shrunk a lot in the last 2 years but still very usable. Notice the lack of weeds on the pile but, of course, around the edge there are some huge ones. I usually just take the wagon and the dogs, get a load of flax and bring it back to use in the yard.

The flax that we placed down along the edge of the fence that surrounds the garden at the end of the lane really has kept the weeds at bay this year. And, it looks good.

Did the voles leave any whole lilies in your garden, Sierra...did anything bloom this year?

Brenda

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 7:36PM
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sierra_z2b

Thanks for the info Brenda, No I don't have access to flax shives.

And yes I did have a small handful of lilies left in my garden that bloomed. I would say less than a third of what I had. And yes just about all my remaining perennials bloomed....some were just a bit smaller. The down pours, hail, winds and frosts all summer, were also a factor in blooms not lasting very long. I did dash out with the camera when I could, to get pics before the storms wiped them all out....I hope to show some on the Alphabit threads this winter. :-)

Sierra

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 9:59AM
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valleyrimgirl(2b)

I will be working with the pictures this winter too. When I took a picture I wrote in a duotang the name of the flower. But, I haven't always taken the time to transfer that info into the computer and name each picture. Winter project!

Glad that some of your lilies made it through!

Brenda

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 2:32PM
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