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Talking about types of mulch - which do you prefer?

 
pollinator
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Location: Western MA, zone 6b
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Honestly I use whatever I can get within reason.    Chopped leaves? great.   Wood chips?  great.  Pine needles?  also great.   Cut grass?  great too.   Chop and drop?  perfect.     There is never enough mulch available so happy to layer on whatever and whenever it becomes freely available.  
 
pollinator
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Location: Wichita, Kansas, United States
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Heather Staas wrote:
Honestly I use whatever I can get within reason.    Chopped leaves? great.   Wood chips?  great.  Pine needles?  also great.   Cut grass?  great too.   Chop and drop?  perfect.     There is never enough mulch available so happy to layer on whatever and whenever it becomes freely available.  



I totally agree.
I just mulched a flower pot with dead parsley plants.
 
pollinator
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Location: British Columbia
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I feel like wood chips are a huge part of my composting small business. I have a fellow who does brush clearing that drops off his wood chips at my place. He loves it because he doesn't have to pay for tipping fees to dispose of them at the landfill. I love it because it is a mix of chips, leaves, branches, and larger chunk that didn't go through the chipper.

I'm concerned about the about of wood chips that I use that come from conifers. The majority of trees in the area are pine and fir. I'm concerned that this will affect what microbial communities will for in the compost and soil. Any thoughts?
 
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas
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My favorite mulch material tends to be whatever biodegradable material I can get in abundance, for free. Typically that's wood chips, as the local arborist company drops loads my front pasture whenever they get a job in the area, and I also have a friend who does landscaping/property clean-up and occasionally has to chip trees/brush in her job. This has taught me that wood chips come in many different forms, but my favorite is when the mulch is finely chipped branches that were full of leaves when ran through the chipper. It comes out soft & fluffy, which is perfect for layering deep on my gardens/beds.
Leaves are great, as well. Prior to my great grandparents buying the land in the 1950's, the property was part of a big pecan orchard, so we have 8 mature pecan trees that are about a hundred years old and drop a ton of leaves each fall. Since raking takes too much time with the days being so short, I usually just rake them into the ornamental beds around the house and also try to give each pecan tree about a foot of leaves from the trunk to dripline to help nourish them for the next year (they're getting old for pecan trees, so I tend to baby them).
My show rabbits produce about a ton of manure each year, and much of that is used as a mulch/top dressing when it's not needed for another project.
Like Eric, I also work in the education field, and shred anything confidential to use in worm bins & as mulch.

It's always interesting to learn what others use, based on the materials they have easy access to. I would have never thought of using seaweed/kelp as a mulching material since that's something I rarely see.
 
gardener
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Phil Swindler wrote:

I just mulched a flower pot with dead parsley plants.

Parsley's full of micro-nutrients, so that sounds like an awesome choice to me.

Ashley Cottonwood wrote:

The majority of trees in the area are pine and fir. I'm concerned that this will affect what microbial communities will form in the compost and soil. Any thoughts?

The part of your quote I bolded is significant - that's the eco-system you're in, so having lots of "I work well with pine and fir" microbes will benefit your soil in many ways. From my experience, once you've decided to use that compost for a specific application, so long as the soil you're adding it to has a healthy biome, things will likely balance out given a little time. If you're wanting it specifically adjusted for pH, that can be achieved through either patience or additives. For example, people say you shouldn't use cedar as a mulch as it has alleopathic chemicals in it. I mulch the path up our field with it so I don't have to walk through mud in our wet winters. Within a year, the grass has grown over it even though I put it down about 3 inches thick, and I have to apply more. I *live* in a cedar forest - the microbes are there to deal with cedar chemicals!
 
pollinator
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Wood chips have been my favorite mulch because I get them for free.

That said, I have been experimenting with making my own mulch, I am now using Bolivian sunflowers for vast amounts of biomass.       I have found that putting these in water and letting them ferment for about 3 months I have some great mulch that fertilizes the plants with all the bacteria activity after they ferment.


So fermented much which is enhanced with earthworms is my favorite mulch.
 
Kc Simmons
pollinator
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Ashley Cottonwood wrote:I'm concerned about the about of wood chips that I use that come from conifers. The majority of trees in the area are pine and fir. I'm concerned that this will affect what microbial communities will for in the compost and soil. Any thoughts?



I frequently get loads of chips with a lot of Eastern Red Cedar (a type of Juniper) mixed in, and haven't seen any major negative effects (yet). I've found if it's chipped finely, with the foliage, it tends to break down fairly quickly; but the larger shreds/chips are more slow to break down. The bigger stuff is what I tend to use in paths or mounded borders; or in a bed/area with established trees/plants that I won't be planting anything in for a while. It still available does a good job of keeping moisture in the soil and will readily break down if I come back later and add some manure/compost to it.
Of course, the larger the pieces are, the slower it breaks down. We typically use the tree trunks for fence posts and poultry roosts, and have some that are 10+ years old, with very little breakdown.
 
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