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Do not mulch when you sow!?  RSS feed

 
Aljaz Plankl
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Hey.
When it comes to mulch and seedlings there is no question, but mulch and sowing seeds is a big learning experience for me and i'm sure it's for you to. Let's share!
I have this two beds prepared.
One is bare ground. Can't look at it, but man it's a perfect condition for sowing.
The other one was a pea bed, so now it has peas left over mulch on it.
I want to sow some brasicass and some salad on both beds. How would you go for it?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I sometimes rake the mulch off to bare soil, plant my seeds, and sprinkle mulch lightly back over the seeds, or leave it to the side to put around the new plants when they're older. Sometimes I'll leave the mulch and put another layer of soil on top and plant into that.
 
Jordan Lowery
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Leave the mulch and plant your brassicas on top of your mulch. And by plant I mean toss the seeds out.

So in the future

Mulch first, then seed.
 
Craig Dobbson
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For me it depends on the mulch. Heavy stuff like wood chips goes on after the seedlings emerge. Mainly I use hay/field cuttings which I lay in a thin layer and then sow directly into. From there I just keep adding clippings as the plants grow so I can keep the weeds down. It's working out pretty well.
 
Aljaz Plankl
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I sometimes rake the mulch off to bare soil, plant my seeds, and sprinkle mulch lightly back over the seeds, or leave it to the side to put around the new plants when they're older.

Tyler, yes, this works for me too. Especially in the spring, after beds were covered during winter. And when i pull back the mulch soil warms and it's the best for carrots, salad, radishes etc. Usualy I sow in the soil with raking seeds into the soil - doing this for long time without mulch and everything germinate. But if i cover with thin layer of mulch - low germination rate. Now i have to try only sowing on top of soil and than covering with thin layer of mulch. Is this what you do, you don't rake the seed into the soil, just covering them with mulch?


Jordan Lowery wrote:Leave the mulch and plant your brassicas on top of your mulch. And by plant I mean toss the seeds out.

So in the future

Mulch first, then seed.

I have done that yesterday, but i did cover seeds with a thin layer of clay, seedballs in a way. So i could also do it without this, just broadcastin seeds on top. I really hope it will work, i like this way the most, but never tried it with brasicass. I tried with salad and carrots on top of leaf mulch but it didn't work, seeds got lost in leaves and didn't come out, and it was a thin layer of leaves. It should be leaf mold, those leaves were not decade. Now i have almost decade pea mulch so i hope it will work. I should mentioned before that my preference is broadcasting. I don't always want to make ridges in the mulch and sow, it works , but i'm looking for options how to broadcast on top of mulch. Jordan, please tell more about sowing on top of mulch (seed variety, mulch etc...).


Craig Dobbelyu wrote:Mainly I use hay/field cuttings which I lay in a thin layer and then sow directly into.

So basically you also sow on top of this thin layer of mulch? What about seeds not being in good contact with soil or mulch in this case? Do you rake seeds into the mulch after you sow?
 
Craig Dobbson
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Tal Frulot wrote:
Craig Dobbelyu wrote:Mainly I use hay/field cuttings which I lay in a thin layer and then sow directly into.

So basically you also sow on top of this thin layer of mulch? What about seeds not being in good contact with soil or mulch in this case? Do you rake seeds into the mulch after you sow?


My mulch is a constant addition to my gardens so there are layers that are mostly broken down which stay pretty moist underneath the newer, dryer additions. It's about 2-3 inches thick at any given time, usually thicker towards the end of the season(up to 6 inches) as I add a lot of organic material to my beds. My assumption is that the seeds fall through the top layer of loose dry mulch and end up closer to the moister, half rotted stuff. Being that they only need a little moisture and light to get started, they survive long enough to get a root to the soil surface and start growing well. I don't rake or anything but if I happen to see a seed sitting on top, I'll poke it down a bit. For the most part I let nature make decisions about what lives and what dies.

Larger seeds like squashes and sunflower sometimes need a little help but I usually just plant more than I need to make up for the difference. By saving seeds from year to year I hope to get strains of plants that perform better with these methods so that I can spend less time planting and more time harvesting.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Tal Frulot wrote: Is this what you do, you don't rake the seed into the soil, just covering them with mulch?


I usually put some soil over the seeds, or rake them in.
 
Leila Rich
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Big seeds are fine and will push right through, but I always have them in contact with the soil.
I've always had very poor germination of small seeds if I leave mulch down, or sprinkle it on top, and on the rare ocasion I actually sow seed like root crops direct, I keep them unmulched.
Laying jute coffee sacks over the seed and watering often helps hugely with germination.
My garden's tiny though, so I can afford to fiddle about
 
Alex Ames
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Leila Rich wrote: Big seeds are fine and will push right through, but I always have them in contact with the soil.
I've always had very poor germination of small seeds if I leave mulch down, or sprinkle it on top, and on the rare ocasion I actually sow seed like root crops direct, I keep them unmulched.
Laying jute coffee sacks over the seed and watering often helps hugely with germination.
My garden's tiny though, so I can afford to fiddle about


I am in a situation similar to yours. Fiddling about for us in a small space would be to sprinkle seeds around and hope to
get anything to eat. Now I do some of that and once in a great while something does come up. I think it is best to be intentional
about how you plant things and still when you have done everything you know to do, you sometime get poor germination.

I am in hurry to get Kale and Mustards started for fall but it is so hot nothing is coming up. If I wait later the angle of the sun
starts to go behind my pine trees and I have very slow growth. I want to jump start them so that when they slow down they have
some size to them.

Spinach Malabar is popping up all over my garden from last year. So for those that like a relaxed style of growing stuff just plant that
and you will have it.
 
Viola Schultz
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Location: Zone 6 Hudson Valley
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I was just browsing for an answer to the same question, having beautifully mulched everything with leaves, and compost, and pine bark and needles ... So, pulling mulch away to seed sounds like a lot of extra work. I have a small garden but even tho I consider it an insane project. I think I will sprinkle some compost on the top and then seed and mulch again when stuff emerges. I should have a composted leaf mulch ready for the next winter, that should make things easier in the next spring. Does that make sense?
 
Peter Ellis
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Makes a difference what you are planting. Some seeds need light to germinate. Some need to be covered. Random broadcasting of random seed on top of mulch will give pretty random results.
A so matters what your mulch is. Mine is fallen leaves. I found things had trouble coming up through the whole leaves. Other things sewn on the top of the mulch had trouble getting their roots to the soil.
For me what works best is raking the mulch back, planting seeds on the soil and pushing mulch back after they are established. I expect straw would be very different, much easier for seedlings to get through in both directions.
 
leila hamaya
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yeah totally ^^^^
leaf mulch doesnt work for being direct seeded into it, straw works better.
though a funky rotting mulch is kinda harsh for tiny seedlings, you see a lot of sprouts but then the funkiness gets to them. i also tend to rake it up, off to one side, then put it back on once they are established (with some extra new fresh stuff).

and it really depends on what you plant, squash and brassicas are tough and do ok even being quickly thrown on top of mulch (well they fall into little crevices of the mulch), but smaller seeds wont make it.

lettuce and carrots, mentioned above, are both pretty difficult to direct sow, so not surprising that someone didnt get good germination. i have had some epic fails trying to direct seed both.

but then figuring out -lettuce needs light to germinate- helped, you have to broadcast them and not cover them at all.

carrots are particularly difficult, sometimes a thin straw mulch can help.
you have to keep them constantly wet, so sowing them at the right time of frequent rains helps.
i just learned that you can start them on sand, i was surprised at how well this worked! just started a bed of carrots with sand on top of a raised bed. someone gave me this tip, and for the first time ever i seem to have gotten too many carrots to germinate! i went a bit overboard with the seed amount, cause i am used to getting poor germination rates with carrots.
 
Paul Cereghino
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At risk of reiterating the good comments before... it depends on what the species is adapted to growing in at its "day job"

*Big seeds (chestnut) might love germinating under and pushing through a leaf mold.
*I have and no success sowing into wood chip mulch, even with native forest species.
*Straw on top can work well for maintaining dead air space that reduces evaporation, that increases chance of germination, particularly during dry season. I am talking about 50-75% coverage of soil looking down.
*Good seed soil contact (however achieved) is beneficial (I have seen grass seed germinate at 10x the rate in my footprints on a seed bed!)
*Seed recruitment is a tough business, and some kind of disturbance increases recruitment rate.
*Bird dispersed species may be better adapted to recruiting in herbaceous competition when scarified pelleted and fall spread... no experience here...
 
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