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Seed mulch failures  RSS feed

 
David Livingston
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Location: Anjou ,France
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I keep getting poor crops from trying to grow stuff with either mulching with wood chips and or hay ; Plants with small seeds in particularly do poorly . Parsnip and carrot for example  where as transplanted stuff like cabbages and leeks do great !. Anyone any idea how I can get round this
Ihave quite cley soil and am based just north of the loire in France .

David
 
Gilbert Fritz
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I've had this problem myself. As well as the mechanical issues with mulch (large air pockets, etc.) and possible allopathic interactions, I've heard that some plants just need contact with mineral soil to get started.

Also, carrots, parsnips, lettuce, etc. are early successional plants with small, windblown seeds. It would make sense that they would do best in bare, disturbed soil.

Can you scrap back the mulch and plant them in a row of soil at the bottom of the trench, then push the mulch back together?

I tried putting a strip of compost in the mulch, but that dried out too fast.

I've now moved over to minimal tillage, but I still have problems with small seeds because they dry out so fast in Colorado.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Right, ruth stout recommended scraping away the mulch and planting the seeds. After they come up, start pushing the mulch back into place. I more or less do that, but it's a bit hard to get the mulch back on some things like carrots, but I try anyway, because the sun here is so harsh and dry.
 
Tobias Ber
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heya.... we had a thread on it over here: https://permies.com/t/55917/Planting-seed-Ruth-Stout-garden#468419

what i am wondering: long strips of cardboard on the ground with 1 inch gaps between them for the seed-rows. i mean, it s easier to push cardboard up to the small seedlings, than pushing hay towards it. and this would allow for denser planting. then mulch later
 
Todd Parr
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:

Can you scrap back the mulch and plant them in a row of soil at the bottom of the trench, then push the mulch back together?


That is exactly what I do.
 
chip sanft
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I was having similar problems and found that simply pulling the mulch back didn't suffice. The effects of wind and rain kept pushing the mulch back into the place i had cleared, and the presence of tender seedlings meant I couldn't easily move that mulch away again.

What I've started doing this year, and it's not perfect but it seems to help, is to pull the mulch further back and to form it into rows. I then put some other green (i.e., fresher and heavier) matter on top of to hold in place. (I've been using the above ground parts of daikon radish for this.) This leaves more soil bare than I might like but it has improved germination for my direct seeded plants. I plan to move the mulch back after the seedlings are well above the level of the soil.
 
David Livingston
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I scrape it back too but there has to be growth you scrape back too particularly carrots I get nothing
 
David Livingston
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Also am unsure about how organic is cardboard

David
 
Charles Dowding
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I have good results every year with mulches of compost. Especially when the compost is say 8-12 months old and of decent quality, not too many sticky lumps.
I am zone 8/9, mild winters and damp, slugs proliferate.
So early sowings of carrots fail unless the mulch is compost, which does not give them hiding places.
Every year I sow mid March and success rate is around 95%.

Seed quality is another factor: best results this year from Bingenheim's biodynamic seeds, in Germany.

In dry, hot climates you can mulch between established rows with say hay, but I fond that by that stage, the growing leaves are shading soil.
This aubject is covered (sic) in our new book, on other threads here.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Carrots are tricky, mulch or no mulch, and I'm no expert. Two things I have found to help: sowing the seed under a covering of sand, not soil, and covering the bed with burlap after planting. The sand will allow for deeper planting, thus keeping the seed moist, while also preventing crusting and capping of the soil. The burlap is easy to water through. Using both techniques, I got OK germination with small seeds.
 
David Livingston
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The seeds that did not work for me this year was oxhella  a German biodynamic seed that had worked well for me in the past when I lived in Angers and had sandy soil  unlike the blue clay I have now
https://www.germinance.com/carottes_28-F11-E5.php

I will give the compost idea a go next year

David
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