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Mulching the SFG

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Mulching the SFG

Post  yolos on 3/27/2012, 3:45 pm

How come nobody appears to put mulch on their SFG. All the pictures I see on this forum never show any mulch around the plants. I know this type of intensive gardening will shade out weeds. But what about when you are planting in the spring and the plants are not big enough to produce any shade. If you do not have irrigation, won't you be watering a lot with no mulch.

Maybe its my hot and humid climate (Atlanta,Ga), but I am already watering once a day and its only spring.
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Re: Mulching the SFG

Post  H_TX_2 on 3/27/2012, 3:56 pm

I think you still want the soil temp to rise at this time of year even in the warmer climates that we are in. Later in the year like mid summer you want to try and keep the soil temp from getting too high so you mulch. Are you sure you need to water everyday? The top of MM can look dry but still be damp underneath.
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Re: Mulching the SFG

Post  Squat_Johnson on 3/27/2012, 4:06 pm

Mulch = uncomposted wood (or straw)

I know what you're going for, but I would consider using compost instead. When the wood breaks down, it takes nitrogen from the mix.

Anyone else agree on this? I haven't done it per se, but I have added compost as "side dressing" (for light green plants needing some nitrogen).
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Re: Mulching the SFG

Post  quiltbea on 3/27/2012, 4:41 pm

I mulch with straw, a terrific brown food for making compost. It keeps the plants from getting overheated and also helps prevent weed growth and it doesn't steal nitrogen from the soil. I don't cover my plants, tho, til the soil starts getting too warm. In Maine, we need the warmth to give those warm-weather crops like toms and peppers a good start.

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Re: Mulching the SFG

Post  camprn on 3/27/2012, 5:13 pm

I mulch with either compost which I can turn under or shredded bark, which I can remove when I need to. What a Face

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Re: Mulching the SFG

Post  yolos on 3/27/2012, 8:45 pm

H_TX_2 - to answer your question about the moisture and soil temperatures, I went out to the garden after work tonight and made some measurements. At 6pm the air temperature had cooled off to 78 degrees. The thermometers I used are cheap and crude, but here is what I got.

Soil Temperature - With shredded straw as a mulch, the soil temp ranged from 70 degrees at 1 inch deep to 75 degrees at 6 inches deep Without the straw, the soil temperatures were pretty consistenly 75 to 78 degrees down to a depth of 6 inches deep. I do not know what is considered a good soil temperature for this time of year though.

Moisture content - The moisture content (on a scale of 0 to 9.9) measured the same for the first 4 inches for straw and no straw (1 inch = 1.6, 2 inches = 2.3, 4 inches = 3.00. At 6 inches and 10 inches, the straw was dryer than the no straw squares (3.6 with straw to 7.5 without straw) . I guess that indicates that the straw mulched squares have to be watered more heavily than the non mulched squares because the straw absorbs the moisture. But I do not know if the top 4 inches are adequately watered with a moisture reading of 1.6 to 3. I know, you are supposed to put your finger down in the soil and feel if it is wet but it is hard to tell how wet. I watered 24 hours previous to testing the moisture content.
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Re: Mulching the SFG

Post  lisaphoto on 3/27/2012, 9:30 pm

I recently watched the movie Back to Eden. The gardener has had great success planting in wood chips. He has a very thick layer of wood chips on the top of his garden. Being on top doesn't rob the nitrogen, but if you till it in it does. He says the wood chips help retain moisture when needed, and displace moisture when there is too much. I am considering adding wood chips, at the very least to my tomatoes to keep them more evenly moist to reduce cracking.
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Re: Mulching the SFG

Post  southern gardener on 9/23/2012, 9:40 pm

lisaphoto wrote:I recently watched the movie Back to Eden. The gardener has had great success planting in wood chips. He has a very thick layer of wood chips on the top of his garden. Being on top doesn't rob the nitrogen, but if you till it in it does. He says the wood chips help retain moisture when needed, and displace moisture when there is too much. I am considering adding wood chips, at the very least to my tomatoes to keep them more evenly moist to reduce cracking.

Hi Lisa...was wondering how your wood chips worked out? I'm intrigued by the back to Eden theory, and was wondering if you did any good with it? Thanks!!
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Re: Mulching the SFG

Post  camprn on 9/23/2012, 10:14 pm

I just say no to wood chips in the garden, though they are just perfect for paths . When wood decays it uses any available nitrogen to accomplish the task. For mulch I use compost, shredded bark mulch, coffee grounds and sometimes newspaper.

I too would like to know how the wood chips mulch turned out.

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Re: Mulching the SFG

Post  FamilyGardening on 9/23/2012, 11:26 pm

we are using wood chips as mulch and its working great! Very Happy

there is a back to eden thread here Very Happy http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t13233-back-to-eden

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Re: Mulching the SFG

Post  yolos on 9/24/2012, 1:30 pm

I use shredded bark in most beds as a mulch because it is free of weed seeds and allows the water to get thru to the soil. I also occasionaly use shredded leaves but they keep water from getting to the soil. I use wheat straw between the beds in the walkways. I rake the walkways once a year and throw the decaying wheat straw in my compost pile and put down a new layer in the walkways. Looks real pretty and keeps the red Georgia clay from making a mess.
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Re: Mulching the SFG

Post  CapeCoddess on 9/24/2012, 5:23 pm

I use ruff compost or pine needles or seaweed, depending on need and availability.

CC
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Re: Mulching the SFG

Post  llama momma on 9/24/2012, 6:50 pm

Ideally, I would say to use compost, not only from a mulch perspective but certainly increased plant nutrition. In a perfect world I strive to have more homemade compost on hand than what is needed.
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