|Mushroom compost at "Gilmore Garden Center."|
We will have 3 yards of mushroom compost delivered this week. When I begin filling my first wheelbarrow full, I will think about the mulching techniques I have learned from many and various gardeners over the past 10 years...
|"Beautiful! Glorious! Delicious!," say my plants.|
What I have learned so far:
1. This is a lot of work! So make it count for double the time & money: add nutrients while you mulch. Instead of using those beautiful large bark chips (which actually have the gall to steal nitrogen away from your plants!), use something rich in nutrients, like mushroom compost or well-rotted leaf and grass litter.
2. Apply it 2-3 inches deep to suppress weeds for the growing season. You still may get some, but usually they are easier to pull out of the loose mulch than the firm soil.
3. Make sure to leave your plants some wiggle room. Apply the mulch deeply, but leave it at least one inch away from the crown of the plant. Leave 2-3 inches of space all around tree trunks. In the book, The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, author Tracy DiSabato-Aust says that most of us are mulching our plants to death! So remember to leave them some room to breath.
4. Do not apply hot compost (meaning mushroom compost or other nutrient rich sources) to woodland (e.g. ferns) or silver-leaved plants (lavender), because they are not used to having that level of nitrogen shock. Instead, use leaf litter for the woodland. In a column written for The English Garden, Joe Reardon-Smith from Parham House suggested that lavender do not need more than the few goat dropping a year that they usually receive in their natural habitat.
5. For garden areas in which you want to encourage self-seeding plants, use a garden fork to "tickle in" some compost over those areas. Christopher Lloyd talk all about this in his book Succession Planting for Year-Round Pleasure. He also covers many other aspects of ornamental gardens. (It is my favorite garden book for sure!)
6. If you are mulching with well-rotted mushroom compost, be sure to save some extra for patching you lawn, topping off your vegetable beds (or containers), and even your ornamental containers.
7. You know you are a real gardener when just thinking of rotted plant and animal material gives you excited butterflies in your stomach... as opposed to the queasiness that most people feel in their stomachs.
|A nice steam coming off our pile of mushroom compost|
Any more tips from my fellow gardeners?
I am always ready to learn more. Learning has been one of the driving forces behind my gardening. That and the need for Beauty!
Here is an excellent resource from Penn State on Mushroom compost.
~~~~An edited repost from the archives this week as I make plans for this year's mulch delivery!