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Can I save my garden?

I have hardly ever made, or used a mulch. I made one with wood chippings and used it to keep down annual weeds. Mulch always seemed a wonderful hiding place for slugs and snails of which I have more than enough already. However last Autumn I did collect vast quantities of fallen leaves. Normally they would have gone into the compost bin but that was out of commission at the time (another story), instead some went into a newly acquired wire bin and the rest into any sizeable container I could find that had no holes. I covered all these with plastic sheets to keep them dry but the rain got in any way. The leaves in the wire bin have reduced to about ¼ of their original volume and are quite dry and crumbly. All those in the other containers are absolutely saturated but mostly still recognisably individual leaves. Only thick stalks could easily be removed from the mixture.
Can I use any of this as mulch.  I can't remember when we last had any worth-while rain here (in Stockport). The latest it could have been would be early April, and I have almost emptied my large rainwater butt just nurturing my large collection of potted plants (Standing them in turn, in buckets of water up to the rim of the pot, until water rising up inside the pots made the top of the soil moist). I have, in the past couple of weeks, had to resort to using tap water in the flower beds. Now a hose-pipe ban is threatened and seems almost inevitable, so mulch has become a last resort. If I remove the wet leaves from their present containers, I guess I can use the slightly smelly liquid for watering purposes? i can then refill the containers with 'grey water', ready for the inevitable.
 Any instructions on what I can use, how and when, any preparation of the flower beds before it is spread would be gratefully received


  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,461
    You will still be able to use a watering can!
  • JellyfireJellyfire Posts: 1,139
    edited July 2018
    Leaf mould often needs a couple of years to break down fully. You want some ventilation so the wire bin will do a much better job than the ones in the containers with no holes. They will probably just turn into a fairly acrid sludge. I would empty all those containers into your dry wire bin and mix them up if the ones in containers are not too foul, that may well speed the whole process up considerably. 

    I wouldn't use it as mulch just yet myself as it probably wont be very effective and will just blow away if its all quite dry. Also If its in pots Im not sure how effective leaf mould would be, as usually worms pull it down into the soil so it is a good soil conditioner.

    As for the drought, if you dont have a hosepipe ban yet, you could top up your water butt from the tap, and as Buttercupdays you will still be able to use watering cans to do your watering so I dont think you have any need to worry too much 
  • JellyfireJellyfire Posts: 1,139
    oh and the slightly smelly water may be far too concentrated to use for watering, if using that I would dilute it something like 10 parts water to 1 part liquid to be safe
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,240
    Mulch  should only be put down on wet soil. If you put it on dry soil, when it rains, the mulch soaks up the rain, and it doesn't penetrate the soil.
  • RozieRozie Posts: 26
    Thank you, especially to Jellyfire. You, at least solve what to do with my wet leaves, and the idea of filling the butt with tap water could be useful, as long as I reserve some rainwater to keep my Venus Fly Trap happy! fidgetbones confirms what the soil beneath the mulch should be like, i.e. moist. My problem with watering cans, Buttercupdays, is that I have osteoporosis in my spine so I am only able to use a small watering can and must make innumerable trips to, and from, the tap. It really will be a nuisance not to be able to use the hose pipe with which I can get the delivery end really close to where I want the water to be and stop the flow instantly just by releasing the trigger. With the watering can, unfortunately, I will probably spill more, water less acurately, not as thoroughly, and take much longer!
  • LynLyn Posts: 22,852
    There must be a lot of us in the same boat, very dry, although we had enough rain on  Sunday to fill out butts, the ground is now like dust again, so I’m just thinking how nice are the things I have got surviving, and won’t look at the things I haven’t got, because they’re dried up and looking parched. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,461
    I do understand about the watering cans, as I have a large garden and am struggling to keep it watered using them. No option though, as we have our own water supply, or at present, NO water supply, so water cans dipped in the pond it must be.
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,121
    A few years ago a colleague of mine (civil engineer) had a new house built ; with his usual foresight a 3800 litre septic-tank was sunk into the back garden prior to being landscaped .
    This was then disguised as a small well , only the top being visible . All rainwater was diverted from the house gutters into this tank .
    The last time we had a hosepipe ban , he simply threw in a submersible pump and was able to water his garden 'ad lib' . He'd spent a fortune on plants .
    I realise this idea is probably not financially viable to a lot of people , but I had to (and still do) admire his anticipation of the probability of years like this one .

  • WaysideWayside Posts: 845
    edited July 2018
    That's a great idea.  I have a couple of water butts, but am a bit stuck as to where to put them.  And have often thought about burying them or something.

    Another brilliant idea I stumbled upon was a heat mass store.  If the water table or underground streams don't flow through your garden, you can pump hot water down deep into the earth all summer, probably from your greenhouse or hot patio or tarmaced driveway.  Earth acts as an insulator, and traps the heat well if water doesn't take it away.  Then come winter you reverse the process, and voila a heated greenhouse.  Probably a good idea to have an insulated greenhouse too.  In the winter you are crying out for heat, and after a week of blistering sun here, I'd be glad for it to go!  But certainly a great idea to tap into this free energy, and run-offs.
  • FireFire Posts: 17,323
    edited July 2018
    "You can pump hot water down deep into the earth all summer"

    When you say 'deep down' how deep are we talking?

    There is a similar storage discussion on the SUDS thread. In a new build it makes total sense to put in tanks.
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