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Old 04-27-2013, 02:21 PM   #1
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Default Mulch - what do you use?

It's just about the right time to mulch here in south central KY, the first weeding has been done, the soil is warming up, the plants are tall enough to see and the second wave of weeds is coming on.

I use our chopped composted leaves for the perennial beds but the shrub beds need a more permantent mulch. I've use pine bark mulch in the past but it's pricey, especially when purchased by the bag. I just got a load of pine fines that smells like a pine forest to use in a mixed shrub bed. Now I'm concerned about nitrogen deficiency because it seems kind of raw and wondering if I should add some alfalfa meal or Plant-Tone to offset it.

Lots of folks down here use pine straw (pine needles) to mulch their beds but I don't like the look of it. What do you use?
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Old 04-27-2013, 03:35 PM   #2
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Ohhhh this is a great thing to discuss
I am thinking on this myself.

If you are talking about around your house or nice flower gardens well-----
I loved cypress mulch if I had the money, the strength to lug it home -- ohhhh and then some one at another garden site said to use cypress was hurting the swamps-- so now I have guilt -- but if not for those three things that would be all I would use.

Cypress mulch IT last forever -- and to make it even last longer -- I put down wet newspapers and then the cypress. Ohh, dry newspapers -- is harder they fly away -- just been there and done that too. Oh to be younger -- would that mean I would be foolish again. But back to cypress mulch ---It does not blow away and best of all - it does not wash away -- well I am sure if there was enough water and really steep it would, but it has surprised me how well it does stay put. Well --okay the geese getting in and digging it and the newspaper up sort of makes it disappear -- darn it. But if you don't have geese!!!!!

But darn -- I have a long driveway that is landscaped to keep erosion at bay, for I have steep sides, then I have strawberries, hazelnuts, blackberries, herbs, blueberries, and sun chokes.

I feel like I should be some expert on mulch -as much as I have mulched, you know how it is.

I have gotten loads of mulch from road crews -- it is great stuff, but I worry what it brings in diseases, but it is free and I don't let that fear stop me.. This stuff does take the nitrogen out- sucks nitrogen right on out _ I have seen it. I think it is because of the green leaves in the stuff breaks down so fast that the metabolism of the fungus and bacteria is also going at rapid speed too. So it takes the nitrogen out faster and more of it than that pine bark mulch you - dear Linrose are talking about. Pine bark decays slower so the decays is slower thus doesn't drain the nitrogen so fast. I am pretty sure it will be okay with out adding alfalfa meal, if the soil is okay to begin with.

Pine straw is something I have used when I have had a little bit that I can rake up --I have not gone and bought it and lugged it home -A lot , of people love it, though -- they call it Pearl or pirle , or something fancy.


In the last five years I have been getting straw. And as I have learned to work with it --- I really like it! A lot of people say that it brings weeds in with it and some of it is not clean and does, but it also smothers the weeds too - and it last -- I like it to last. It last a little longer than a year. I use to think it blew away, but it does not if you get it down on a day that it is not windy -- and as it lays it takes up moisture and stays put. Once again though -- I mulch so much -- it is ridicules-- even straw is costing me too much money .

SO what do I have -- well my men bale hay - 5 year old bales is getting rather old and we have it in the barn. The cows would rather starve than eat it that old.. Soooo I am going to use that this year. I have used it before. It exhaust me to unwind it in those big round bales, I don't like that, but I don't have to lug it home though - that is done for me by my men with a spear and a tractor and it is free. It depletes nitrogen but it puts it right back in fast too. It disappears fast though - one day everything is mulch and then I look up and it is gone. It can bring in weed seeds but like straw if handled right it can smother them too.

Oh-- and for permanent mulch: I have done a lot of this and it sure makes maintenance so easy and that is black plastic, and gravel, rocks, bricks.

Oh and I have chicken house -- pine shavings too that is good stuff, but as much as I mulch --it is not enough Plus the shavings unless it is really weighed down with lots of chicken manure -- blows away. I need my head examined -- I just ordered more blueberries and they came in yesterday -- Southern high bush instead of the usually northern high bush - more mulching.
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Old 04-27-2013, 05:33 PM   #3
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It is called pirl, for pine straw, I am not sure why?
Maybe a company wanting to sell it and it is brand name?
I can't find anything on the internet about why it is calle pirl.

I see there is another thread here about straw. Equil and Havalotta had a rough time of it -- with sprouted wheat - Yeah, scared me too. Then someone told me not to sweat it - it dies and it did.
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Old 04-28-2013, 02:47 AM   #4
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pawprint I like making mulch too

I don't think you have to worry about the cypress forest too much because of your mulch purchases. Your managing your cypress mulch in a ecological way Liquidambar. I've been to a few saw mills and the mulch they make is from barking the tree, chipping slabs, they like to strip that bark and sell it, but the the saw log or post is the value of the cypress not the mulch. All the saw mills have 'caught on' to selling the sawdust and bark, which in times not long ago, this was a waste byproduct and was given away, now it is just a little extra money maker.

Hardwood or Pine the sawmill likes to make a little money off the byproducts, remember the price of logs is very low, about the same price it was 20 years ago, actually less considering the hyperinflation of the last 5 years. If they are destructing the swamps of cypress (and they are) it is not because of the mulch sales.

I use 2" deep of oak sawdust/chip to stop grass from growing. Sprinkle sand over it, and/or add gravel rocks and the wind won't blow it away. Works great on pathways and around large existing plants, I use red cedar sawdust also (I think it helps hold down the ticks).

On veg. garden I will use lawnmower ground leaves hardwood & pine mixed slightly composted this year, I've got decent dirt, hopefully I won't have to add anything else. Then back into the compost/mulch heap this fall to add too/finish over winter.

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Old 04-28-2013, 10:18 AM   #5
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The honey locust tree produces the best mulch I have ever used.Little leaves and lots of tiny stems,pretty and stays put. This goes into the hobbit garden.
Leaves from the maples are used in shade areas.
All last until next years batch.

Straw from all the grass cut back in spring goes where needed. Most areas just get the clipped cutback either in spring or fall. Even the prunings from the redtwig dogwood makes a good woodland path mulch around the trees.
We have a small urban lot but it produces an amazing amount of biomass. Even with all the mulching it still produces compost though much of that is kitchen waste and newspaper.
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Old 04-28-2013, 10:48 AM   #6
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I mostly use hard wood chips dyed black with an organic dye. Sometimes I use white pine needles.... it depends.
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:40 PM   #7
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I am going to be working on my school garden soon and was wondering what to use for mulch. Any ideas?
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Old 04-29-2013, 09:41 PM   #8
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What is your budget?
Get the cypress mulch-now that WildWatcher says I don't have to be guilty about hurting cypress swamps.

Can't be beat!
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Old 04-30-2013, 07:14 AM   #9
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No real budget. Everything is being paid for by me. And a few donations from teachers.
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Old 04-30-2013, 07:31 AM   #10
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Lowes is the best price for the most amount, I have not checked this spring though.

Although I think I am going to put some more down in one area at my Mother's house. I noticed she had a few blue bells come up in the mulch I had -- so I am eager to put the rest down and encourage their growth. I think it was 3.5 or maybe 4 cubic feet for 3.50 a bag.
But not for sure.
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