Thinking about mulch...

julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)May 25, 2007

I usually do not mulch-

Although , it some times looks like I use a "green" mulch when I slack on weeding.... (which is most of the time..)

I am thinking about mulching my well draining sandy loam soil garden beds....

Which mulch do you use? Why did you choose that mulch? What do you think may work well for my beds?

I know- too many questions!!

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I use grass clipping and plane a few cedar boards for my veggies then for my perennials I use the FREE mulch/wood chip pile off of 76th st. in Richfield! I used to buy bags from Home Depot/ Menards but I hadto spend 100-150.00 to get it all mulched! I LOVE mulch! I only have to water veggies in raised beds like once every 5 days and perennial beds during drought of more than 4 days no rain! I leave the mulch in there from year to year and just add more each year! In other words, my Spring cleaning consists of cutting things off and only picking out the LARGE leaves from things like Day lillies and Hostas.

Mulch keeps me from having to water, keeps me from having to use Preen and keeps the garden "looking clean."Not to mention it provides a visual space between plants, which I love- organized!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 12:55AM
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I just bought a car load for the garden on the land. I don't have time to weed it and it is my big holding bed. Home Depot has a big sale this weekend. There cypress mulch which is 2.50 a bag for 2 cubic feet is on sale. Its 6 bags for 10.00 so I bought 12 bags. Also they had a great price on annuals. Also Walmart has a good sale to. Woodbury store didn't have nothing but headed over to WI and there stock was huge!!!! Julie Mulch-Mulch-Mulch and make your life easier.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 1:21AM
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This is my first year using mulch. I'm using shredded leaves from our many trees - got them shredded through the mulcher on the lawnmower. So far I'm using 1-2 inches on the vegetable garden. It seems to be working well - at least the plants don't appear to be wilting as fast as they usually do. I know what you mean about that "well-drained" sandy soil.

I chose to use the shredded leaves because they were free and finely chopped enough that I could put them around smallish seedlings without drowning them. Also, I know they'll decompose quickly so if it doesn't work out, it's not a big loss. I can just dig it in at the end of the year and be done with it.

I wouldn't know what to suggest. Large, mature plants can handle a coarse or large particle size mulch. Seedlings and small growing plants are lost in it. Last year I had some straw I used to mulch around my potatoes. I tried a few times to use it around other plants in the vegetable garden, but it didn't work because the straw was too long and bulky. It wasn't fine enough to cover the soil evenly without the straw itself taking up a lot of valuable real estate in the bed.

I'm using straw on the potatoes again this year, but for everything else I'm using the shredded leaves.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 10:06AM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

Hi, Julie.

I also use shredded leaves as mulch for many of the same reasons as gamebird. I like that they compost and add to the soil. In the late fall I cover the beds with shredded leaves then pull it away from the plants in the spring until the soil warms and plant grows a bit then put it back around the base of the plant.

Tree trimmers dumped a load of chopped wood off one year that I have used for mulching trees and in my veg. bed paths. I don't like wood mulch in my beds. It takes too long to break down and I don't like the feel of it when I want to work in the soil.

This year I have removed all the mulch as I am redoing my beds and moving plants. Am adding a large bed in the front yard and using some of the backyard beds for holding beds for some of my wsown babies.

Mulch is great! Only a few weeds make it through a good mulch and they are easily pulled.

Warning, if you want plants to self-sow the mulch needs to be removed in that area.


    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 2:51PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

My favorite is chopped leaves. I love that it breaks down by the end of the season. It's easy to work in. If I want to dig, divide, move things etc. I don't have to rake it back before digging. If it gets mixed into the soil..great! I use straw in my veggie garden. I do use shredded cedar mulch in a couple of my planting areas, where the leaves would be prone to blowing away. The shredded stuff stays put better than wood or bark chips which tend to blow away or float away during heavy rains. Around my trees I use chipped wood that I get for free from a guy who does tree removal.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 10:31PM
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I use wood chips, mostly because I like the look, and I can often get by only mulching every other year. However, so far this spring we have already used 5 yards, and at $27 a yard it is getting expensive! We are considering buying a wood chipper. I think they have models that will also shred leaves. And we have plenty of each, so in the long run it would be so much cheaper!


    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 10:15AM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

I like grass clippings in the vegetable garden, although I don't always get it done. I have both shredded wood (from the recycling center) and bark mulch in my perennial flower beds. I like the bark better. I think it holds up longer. I bought a small leaf shredder last fall, and used that around my newly planted shrubs and I thought that did pretty well too, although I haven't used enough of it to give a really definite opinion on it.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 10:14PM
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zenpotter(z4 MN)

I use farmpost from Canterbury Race track. It is free for the taking. It is manure ground with bedding straw, then put in wind rows to age. This is my fourth year to use it and my plants love it.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 9:19AM
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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

Thanks so much for all of your replies and suggestions!!
I think I will go with a variety of mulches and see which I prefer-
I hope to use newspaper (if I can find some somewhere..) and chopped leaves in the veggie garden- in the past- I have used newspaper and grass clippings- but have found that I end up growing more grass and lawn weeds in the garden that way (or so it seems). I know my husband will think I am nuts hauling all the oak leaves back into the front yard- from the brush pile wwaaayyyyyy out back... they have not even been out there that long...
Cypress mulch in the new well spaced beds (well- till they mature, or I bring home more treasures, which ever comes first..)- I did get to the store and bought several bags on sale- I thought it would last a bit longer than leaves would- and maybe stay put a bit better than the leaves- and maybe not pack down too tightly. I am not sure I will like the look, I do not like the chunks of wood I bought for another bed years ago- they slide out into the mowers way leaving bare spots in the bed- and are uncomfortable to step or kneel on. But weed control and moisture retention are the primary reason for mulch... not the look of it.
Lord only knows what I will use in the established over crowded beds-
Maybe I will call for a load of chopped up tree from the local tree trimming service... That has always worked well on the paths in the woods. I am surprised how quickly that breaks down especially when you think you can leave the pile be for a day or 3- I had a SUPER HEATED compost pile in very short order!
I would LOVE to buy a log chipper! We have rented one in the past- and will probably need to do that again some day - It is fun and satisfying to chop and grind up buckthorn! I don't see that in the budget though...
Stalled racehorse 'tovers sound like a great idea!! Zen- how does one go about acquiring this? Is it bagged and ready to go? Or does one need to bring a pitchfork and a pickup truck?

Thanks again for all of the responses!


    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 11:18AM
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luvmydaisies(Lonsdale, MN/ zone4)

Before and after maulch....

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 9:30AM
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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

I really like the color of your mulch! ine is plain old Cypress- it is a bit orange for my tastes- but I think it will bleach out soon....
Fingers are crossed!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 8:31AM
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I use woodchips because I need a lot and can get it free. I also like the look. BTW, Many of my plants self-sow just fine in it, even when applied thickly. Of course, some plants won't do as well; I figure out what those are and use other methods (always seeking to minimize my work, of course! :-). I also find that the more plant cover I have, the slower the mulch decomposes. Plus, as the plants fill in I have more material to break up and recycle as mulch.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 7:24AM
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carmellia(z 4 Minn)

I've read all of the replies with interest. Do any of you know if I have special requirements because my soil is heavy? I am seriously, seriously considering mulching my flower gardens. I spend an incredible amount of time in my gardens and I would say that at least 75% of that is taken up by weeds. I have been working in some compost and sand over the last few years, but still it is definitely heavy soil.

I am trying a straw mulch in the veggies, although I don't know that straw breaks down very well.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 11:18AM
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zenpotter(z4 MN)


You need a pitchfork and a truck or trailer, we rent a trailer.

When you are going give me a call and I will give you directions. There isn't anyone around so you just go help yourself.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 7:52AM
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You can significantly decrease your work time by using mulch to suppress weeds. Even an inch or two will suppress some weeds and the weeds that come up will be easier to pull. It will also decrease the amount of water required. Over time, as the mulch breaks down, the soil will become looser and you will see more beneficial earthworms--you can speed up the process by working the old mulch into the top layer of soil with shallow cultivation. I try to wait until mid-June before I mulch, to give the soil a chance to warm up (very necessary in Duluth). (Especially with tomatoes and peppers.)

In my flower gardens, I try to mulch around the plants with grass clippings, chopped straw, and pine needle mix that I bag up from my lawn with the lawn mower. (The chopped straw comes from the excess winter mulch on my strawberry patch.) (No weed killer on the lawn!) When I lived on a lake, I would rake up seaweed from the shore and use that between the rows in my vegetable garden and till it in every fall. After a year or so, I had wonderful soil. Anything organic will do, although a soil test is recommended to see if your soil is out of balance, i.e. excess nitrogen, pH, minerals.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 8:19AM
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