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Some (a lot) questions about mulching  RSS feed

 
Saam Maeki
Posts: 13
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Hi,

I am new to gardening and the ideas of permaculture. Right now I am working with a hugel and some raised beds. In these I have mainly annuals, but also a few perennials. I am using mulch on these, mainly leaves and grass. I have made some observations which have raised a lot of questions about mulching and would like to draw from the communities knowledge.

How do you do when you plant your annuals in a mulched bed? Do you remove the mulch layer completely or just partly? Or do you let plants grow through the mulch? It seems to me that some plants have a hard time getting through the mulch, e.g. marigold, carrots and spinach, whereas others like peas have no problems with this.

My mulch certainly retains moisture much better than bare earth but it also seems to keep the ground a lot cooler. In a cold climate, I am north of the arctic circle, would it be better to maybe have no mulch on the beds in spring in order to heat up the soil faster? I bought thermometers to compare soil temperature but all four were broken. If you live in Sweden beware of Impecta Fröhandel.

How thickly do you mulch? Even a thin layer, say 1 inch or less has a great effect on moisture retention but not as much on weeds. I have one bed with probably 3 inches of mulch and there I have almost no weeds at all. But again the soil feels a lot colder.

If you use leaves, how do you keep them in place? Until now, two years, we have had no real storms or wind. But now we did, and especially the hugel lost a lot of leaves.

We have a lot of stones. Almost everywhere you place the shovel you hit some rock. Anyone used rocks as mulch? If so, what size and to what effect?
I am very interested in the heat storing possibilities of stones, I have some rocks placed around some bushes that I've planted but whether they have any effect is hard to assess. Thus any info concerning rocks and heat and how to use it would be greatly appreciated.

I am certain there will be more questions but I will start like this. Thanks in advance.

Best regards,
Saam
 
Erin Blegen
Posts: 21
Location: Minnesota, United States
food preservation forest garden hugelkultur
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I use straw to mulch my hugel beds (which is actually recycled duck bedding that has been dried out). When it comes time to plant, I pull the straw away from the row that I'm planting, but not from the entire bed. Once the plants have sprouted, I move the mulch back around the plant.

With fall planted garlic, I mulch heavily with leaves for the winter and the garlic finds its way through in the spring. Same with asparagus and strawberries.

I guess I haven't noticed the straw keeping the beds too cool...but I don't have overly thick layers of it either. Maintaining a more thin layer for moisture does allow for some weeds, but even then the weeds aren't that bad.

When mulching the beds in the fall with leaves, I gather them up in a wheel barrow and break them down (basically by grinding them with my hands) as much as possible. I often mix in some rabbit manure too. Then I wet them completely, mixing by hand, before adding to the beds. This seems to help keep them from blowing away.

I hope this helps a little!

 
Saam Maeki
Posts: 13
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Thanks, it does help!
I thought of another question, are there any known problems with mulching too close to a plant? Like pests or disease.
 
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