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Mulch?

MeomyeMeomye Posts: 797
When it is recommended to use a mulch at the base of a plant, I never quite know what I am looking for. Please could you elaborate? I have used well rotted horse manure previously but usually in the winter months. I do not have access to a compost heap so what is the next best thing please? t i a

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  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,601
    You can mulch at any time your soil conditions are right - not dry or wet. However, the mulch shouldn't touch the stems of the plants so it is easier to do most areas while they are relatively dormant. Good organic muck is the best and can be bought from garden centres or stables or in some places, from the council. Some people use woodchips which look attractive as well. Could you start your own compost heap? They do come in very handy.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,275
    I buy bags of ‘soil conditioner’ from the garden centre. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • ElferElfer Posts: 329
    IMO problem with wood mulch / bark is that it doesn't get absorbed in the soil as it takes years or possibly decade to breakdown which poses a problem if you want to change things around in your bedding ( move plants or turn it over etc). Compost type mulch is much more practical.
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,873
    I read an RHS article a while ago that said mid Spring is the ideal time to mulch with rotted manure.
    If you use it in the autumn, by the time the plants wake up in the Spring, most of the goodness has been washed away by winter rains. Which makes sense.

    If you're just adding organic matter to improve the soil (e.g. home compost) then anytime is fine.

    If I've just got a few plants to mulch, then I buy bags of rotted farmyard manure from a garden centre.
    Sometimes I do a whole area of the garden and then I buy in bulk
    My compost bins provide about almost 1 cu metre a year which I also spread around.
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • LoxleyLoxley NottinghamPosts: 4,976
    Composted fine bark is good (sometimes sold as soil conditioner) - it mulches, then it adds organic matter to the soil. 

    I think now is a good time to mulch, the ground is moist, and weed seedlings are small enough to be smothered.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,148
    If it's round perennials, any organic matter is fine - compost, soil conditioner, manure etc, as it will break down and improve the soil structure.
    Bark is best kept for shrubs, or anything more sturdy, as it's too hefty for finer planting, and you don't want it covering the crowns of lighter planting to avoid the risk of rot. It does break down here quite quickly [ I do the hedge bases and shrub areas every year ] but in drier areas it'll take longer. You can also get finely chipped bark which would be fine for many plants, but again is best kept clear of emerging perennials.
     Gravel is best for small plants like alpines and succulents, or anything delicate as it helps to stop soil splashing up onto the plants, and it prevents rotting of finer stems. Good for top dressing any pots specimens too. 

    It also depends what you want the mulch for. If it's to retain moisture, do it at this time of year if you get drier weather through summer. Organic matter of any kind can really be added at any time, but it's harder to get in among plants when they're growing, so autumn through till early spring is good for that.  
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