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In two minds over straw mulch

 
Posts: 120
Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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I loved the ruth stout book on mulching.

I have access to free horse bedding straw with manure in and some spoiled hay.

I mulched my allotment with it and it retained moisture great but the couch grass that runs came in from the grass path and up through the mulch. I thought I had it pretty thick too.

Also slugs do live under there, my plug plants got munched. It was a bit of a disaster and i'm losing heart on the straw mulches.

I have covered with tarp to kill the grass, then will fork over to remove grass roots and then mulch.

Or should i just pile more mulch on but x2 the amount?
 
pollinator
Posts: 1505
Location: northern California
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Different places I've lived all seem to have a different protocol with mulch. (I have lived and gardened in severe-winter, year-round moderate rain Michigan, mild winter, variable rain Georgia, monsoon Bangladesh (winter dry, summer wet) and Mediterranean California (winter wet, summer dry). Mulch around small seedlings and new transplants in ALL of these climates brought risk of insect damage. Most everywhere, transplants were often ringed with something (tin cans with bottoms and tops cut off, plastic containers likewise, sections of bamboo or banana stalk, etc.) against ground insects, especially when planting into mulch. With direct seeded stuff I would ordinarily draw the mulch away until the plants were well "up" and less likely to be damaged. In some climates mulch is often a problem even for larger plants. I am finding that to be the case here, mostly because I irrigate with drip irrigation, and if I bury the hoses in mulch, rodents are much more likely to chew through them, and it also becomes a habitat for large numbers of insects. Ducks are the classic permaculture solution, and they might find a place for you too.....
 
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I have a lot of slugs and snails, but they don't actually seem to eat much. Gee, good for you, you say
I mulch very heavily: not mulching my sand dune is not an option...
One thing I've noticed is that bought seedlings are at far more risk of being eaten-
I assume it's something to do with them growing fast and weak in greenhouses.
Have you tried beer traps? they actually work!

 
Posts: 3
Location: Netherlands
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I think your idea of covering with plastic is a good one, as in changing your tactic. I started this year on a abandoned allotment and did a real thin version of sheetmulching. (http://www.permies.com/forums/posts/list/160/21211#250961) Result: less chaos, but still chaos. For me, it was just a test and my conclusion is that mulching works good on existing garden soil, but not to turn wild weeds into garden soil. The weeds are just too strong. Remember that Ruth Stout did conventional gardening for many years before she started mulching with hay. There was much less weed to supress with the hay...
 
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