Mulch or fleece for the winter

I am now in my 3rd year of gardening and I saw in The Lady that we are in for a very hard winter starting on Boxing Day and some people tell me to put more mulch or strulch round my plants and others say lay fleece around them.

Can I ask what people do, if anything, to keep their play warm and when do you do it?

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Posts

  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,826

    Absolutely nothing. If the plants cannot survive even the harshest winter then we do not grow them. Best option is a really deep mulch of almost anything. At least that looks better than fleeece.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,623

    I wonder what information The Lady is basing its prediction on - forecasts further ahead that 30 days are even more unreliable than the usual weather forercasts.

    Some people are saying that we're in for a hard winter because of the good crop of hips and haws in the hedgerows.  In my opinion this is more likely to be the result of a good summer, rather than indicative of the trees' ability to predict the future. image

    If we get warning of an imminent cold snap then I'll increase the  fleece around my fig tree and bubblewrap the cuttings and perennials in the growhouse.  

    To do this earlier and in mild weather would be to risk moulds and botrytis affecting them.

    Hardy perennials in the garden will have to take their chance as they did last winter.  They survived nearly 3 months of being buried under snow then. image

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 7,193
    I'm planning to mulch my borders when i do the big cut down this autumn. Can i just spread a layer all over or do i have to leave "breathing spaces" around the crowns of the perennials that have died down ??
    The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones ......
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,626

    I agree with Berghill about growing what does well.

    Winters have been particularly hard since Jan 2009 and were already harder than the average UK winter.  It's not so bad when there's a snow blanket to protect plants but lethal when it's cold and dry or cold and very wet for long periods.  I've lost count of the shrubs and plants I have lost and have stopped buying fancy plants with wussy tendencies and stick to good doers that will cope.

    The best way to protect plants is a good mulch so that at least the crown is protected.  They have the added benefit of improving the soil.   After that, wind breaks which can be either porous wooden fences, shrubs or special netting stretched on posts or wire fences.   Fleece is fine in a greenhouse but looks dreadful in gardens and gets blown to bits in the first gale.

    The Vendée, France
  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 7,193
    Hi obelixx - so to protect the crowns with mulch do you have to bury them under the stuff?
    The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones ......
  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,826

    As long as they have died down properly then yes the mulch may be put on so as to completely cover the plant.

  • Contact the author of the article predicting a harsh winter and ask them if they would bet their pension on it? I think not. Mulch is always good for plants/soil. Fleece is purely for protection.

  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 7,193
    Brill - that makes the mulching job much more simple than i had been making it ! Is it different when you do it in the spring? I must have read somewhere that you have to fiddle around keeping crowns clear!
    The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones ......
  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,826

    If there is new green growth then covering that up might lead to problems, so in Spring you do need to be more careful. Have to say though, that we just throw it one without trying to be careful.

    Old rule from years back, was Mulch in Autumn to conserve heat and manure in Spring to warm the soil.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,626

    Mulching done in autumn when the plants have died down just involves clearing dead growth that may encourage or shelter slugs and tipping well rotted garden compost or manure or a mix of the two over the ground and spreading it, the thicker the better.  It helps trap moisture and autumn warmth in the soil and protects the crowns of plants from frost.    It gets worked in by worm activity over the winter so aerates and feeds the soil and its organisms and improves texture, making it easier for plants to grow good roots.

     

    The Vendée, France
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