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Thread: Watch out for what you pray for....

  1. #1
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Watch out for what you pray for....

    Last spring we had a dead poplar cut down and also some general tree pruning. It was springtime so we were also working on our garden, and my thought was to ask the tree people if we could get our trees back as mulch, so that I could mulch our garden for "free." Plus I don't like the dyed mulch. I prefer natural.

    They had some reason for why they couldn't give us those mulch chips, but they said they'd swing around the next day and leave us with some mulch. Well, days and weeks went on and we never got the mulch chips, but we weren't too concerned about it.. we lived without it.

    The other day the tree guy came to our house and asked if we were still interested in mulch. We said yes. Well... the truck dumped a 5 foot mound of mulch in our back yard--it's about 6 feet in diameter. In short, it's a LOT of mulch.

    Now that winter is almost here, what do I do with it? Can I put it in the garden now, and then plant around it in the spring? If I cover my front garden with it, will the perennials come through? I have a LOT of grape hyacinths and they're little.. I'm afraid if I put a heavy layer of mulch down now, they won't emerge.

    Should I just tarp the pile over the winter and then use it in the spring?

    Any other creative ideas for getting rid of it? We've already created a mulch path from the front of the house to the side.

    I'm really sorry I said we'd take it!
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    It is wonderful to have and better to let sit for a winter tarped over. Fresh mulch is acidic so letting it sit for a while is great and you can work at your leisure next spring once the bulbs are up so you know what is coming. From what trees are these chips sourced? If conifers, they will be extra acidic which may be great for your garden if it is rather alkaline. My neighbours have conifers shedding lots of needles over my yard and everything grows well in my garden. I pay a lot of money to have the mulch delivered so you are $$$$ ahead already.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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    Oh yes, you are lucky! Tarp it over unless you have areas you can put it in now that are just edges and borders like your path. I would wait until spring to put it on over the bulbs, but if you have trees that need an edge, that might be good. I would say to get it out next summer though, don't let it go another winter as you might end up with yellow jacket nests....ask me how I know.

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    Senior Member rosarugosa's Avatar
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    I get teased about the eternal pile of bark mulch in my driveway. When it's gone, it feels like an empty refrigerator (or sock drawer!) or some other form of emptiness/deprivation, and I need to get more delivered. I'm another one who spends a fair bit of $$ on mulch so I think you are lucky!
    If you do a lot of gardening, you often run into a situation where you need some mulch, so it's always nice to have some on hand.

  5. #5
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Thanks, guys! We decided to just tarp it until spring--maybe using some to create a path to the fire pit we hope to have next year. I'm also going to propose distributing some between our raised beds.

    Having read how wood chips sold in big box stores can be from questionable sources, I'm thinking I'm glad I got it from the tree guy. Razz, I don't know where the chips are from--I think they're a blend of different trees. Also, razz, to your point about fresh chips, I did read that they sequester nitrogen, so it is better to let them sit through the winter. Thanks for the advice!
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    Senior Member CathyA's Avatar
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    I'm not sure I would even tarp it. Let it decompose naturally and as much as possible and don't use it in your garden. First of all, you don't know if it was treated, and secondly, mulch steals nitrogen from your veggies. (Oh...I just realized that catherine said that too). Can you mix leaves and green stuff with it? If you have patience, you could really make that excellent compost in a couple years.......and if there were any chemicals, they would probably have been neutralized. OH.........and importantly......if they are from a black walnut, they could keep your peppers/potatoes/tomatoes from growing because of the juglone.

  7. #7
    Senior Member CathyA's Avatar
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    Catherine.........we had a similar problem with "top soil". This was long ago, but we ordered some from a local place and they gave us waaaay too much. And from the looks of it, it wasn't topsoil. Anyhow.......yes, be careful what you wish for. haha
    Oh......and DH ordered some stone to put under a shed we were having built. Well, it was approximately 5 times the amount we needed. DH put all the extra in our barn and we've regretted it every since........

  8. #8
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    There is no reason to tarp it, we always have a pile of mulch somewhere that lives through winters.

    Also, why is it an either/or situation? Spread some of it now, and spread the rest in spring.

    I would not worry about bulbs poking through 2"-3" of mulch. I regularly have that on my garden and I have small, delicate daffodils. Makes 'em tough to push through that topping.

    Really I dont pay attention to any bulbs and mulch, it is on them to adjust themselves up or down in the soil.

    I am a lazy gardener and Mulch Queen. Spreading mulch is my favorite garden activity.

  9. #9
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    OK, so here I am, 6 months later, ready to get rid of that PILE of MULCH that is probably driving the neighbors crazy!

    I just put some around my lettuce, but now I'm scared--of it sapping nitrogen in particular. It did "cure" for 6 months but I'm not sure that's long enough. I just put about an inch or so in the garden around the lettuce, cucumbers and zucchini, but NOT around the roots. Do you think I'm safe? Or should I pull it off?

    We're also going to make walkways around the raised beds with it, and I'm going to spread it in a circle around our fire pit and get rid of the grass there... but I'm sure that will leave me with a lot of much left. I'll have to pile it up somewhere.

    Any advice on whether I should remove it from the vegetables or not? Cathy, you said it might bring disease.. is that a big concern do you think?
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  10. #10
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Ah, one of my favorite subjects, wood chips! I still remember the best wood mulch I ever had, feom DH's tree company. It was fab! It was uniform 2" squares of solid oak. They clacked like poker chips, they were so hard and smooth. Took forever to break down. i still dream of that pile...

    As to whether or not you should put it down--well, if you dont need it for weed control, then I guess you dont have to put it on the lettuce. But overall I think wood chip mulch is more useful than harmful.

    I will admit that at the moment I am addressing sections of my garden that are low in niteogen. How do I know? The color, of lily leaves. Part of that problem is due to 11" of rain we had in one weekend recently. But some of it is ongoing, I saw the low nitrogen problem last year as well. My immediate remedy is to dump Miracle Grow on affected lilies. They greened right up! But in the long run these soil areas which have had wood chips dumped on them for decades, need more compost.

    I will be adding lots of compost in July and August.

    Our wood chips and compost are free from our city. Sadly, they no longer deliver to my private "community garden" so I called Dh's former employer, the tree company, to see if they would,deliver a big honkin pile of wood chips.they were noncommittal. I may have to pay for a pile for the first time in my life if I dont want ro haul it bucket by bucket from the coty's source.

    as it is,
    I do haul it bucket by bucket to the garden where I live. It is 120 buckets worth to entirely mulch my part of the yard. DH has his own mulching areas.

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