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Permanant living mulch... some questions regarding clover...  RSS feed

 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1621
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Ok, so I've been mulching patchs of our annual beds with woodchips, and mulching around our fruit trees with the same. I've shaken up my plantings to get away from monoculture beds and have enjoyed some success. I'm thinking about now building on this by establishing some really useful permanent living mulches.

Some areas that need attention are:

A moderately sized rhubarb patch - around 20 crowns. My understanding of rhubarb is that they are heavy feeders and like a good nitrogen rich manuring each year. We don't have manure so I was thinking about sowing some clover in and around them. Will rhubarb cope with this or will they get smothered by clover? What do I need to be aware of to make this work? I couldn't find anything at all about deliberately mixing clover and rhubarb plantings.

I've heard that different clover varieties have different properties (red grows taller than white??). I'm leaning towards white so that that the rhubarb leaves can shoot up through it. Are they both hardy perennials? Do they both N-fix as well?

If I want to plant annuals through established clover can I direct seed or do I need to use transplants? I suspect transplants as the clover would swamp small seeds. Or do I slash and till the planting areas?
 
Burt Harrison
Posts: 20
Location: Shorpshire, UK
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Michael, I see you posted this earlier in the year. Did you sow clover with the Rhubarb? If so how did you get on with the clover, as I'm going to sowing a mix of white and red clover in one of our annual beds this autumn with the thought of having a N-fixing permanent mulch... just curious as some folks say that white clover can and will choke annuals.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Michael Cox wrote:Ok, so I've been mulching patchs of our annual beds with woodchips

off topic, but I've always been told to avoid wood chips on annual beds, as the digging involved inevitable works them in to the soil causing 'nitrogen tie up'
unless a massive amount of readily available nitrogen like used coffee grounds is added.
I've never experimented as everything pointed to that actually being the case.
Michael, what's your experience with using wood mulch on an annual garden?
Any nitrogen issues?

As for rhubarb, in my experience a bit of clover won't slow it down!
It sure loves nitrogen-I dump used coffee grounds on mine from time to time, it also loves grass clippings
I have a nitrogen fixation at the moment (hoho)
and while people have tried their best to reassure me and I'm definitely taking their advice/thoughts into account,
I'm taking much more notice of whether legumes are nodulated than I used to.
From what I understand if the bacteria aint there, it needs to be brought in.
 
Burt Harrison
Posts: 20
Location: Shorpshire, UK
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Leila, we have experimented with wood chip mulch on some of our annual beds this year. It seems to be working really well, although it is a little more tedious to scrap back the wood chip to plant through it and then replace back around whatever you have planted. From what I understand so long as you minimize the wood chip to soil contact area (ie you try to avoid the wood chip mixing with the soil) the nitrogen draw down is minimal, and we haven't had any problems... touch wood (chip) We also have no dig beds which helps.
 
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