Natural mulching.


Colin

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Hi,

We live on a clay site in fact a mile away years ago there was a brick company. There are many discussions regarding the benefits of mulching but yesterday this was really brought home to me. I've just removed an hedge mostly of snowberry which has been growing for over 30 years; in front of the hedge is what I jokingly call a lawn it being mostly couch grass and moss.

The hedge has been shredded and is now hopefully composting but I've been digging up the stumps and roots. Between the stumps were masses of small sticks and twigs plus lots of leaves. As I dig up the roots I find wonderful rich soil more like potting compost in texture and the soil is heaving with earth worms; by contrast and as if a line has been drawn if I dig into the lawn where is the soil; just grass roots then what appears to be subsoil it doesn't even look like clay and its so dry and lifeless with extremely few earth worms.

Over the years nature has been composting all the debris under the hedge and this rich soil goes down about 6" deep; 30 years ago we planted a conifer hedge which I've just removed and again under the hedge the soil is much improved all without any input at all from from me.

The picture below shows natures mulch amongst the many stumps; I'm finding it very hard going digging up the masses of roots but as I progress along the top of the garden where the snowberry hedge has been removed I'm leaving top class soil and its so light I can just lean on the spade and the spade goes in without effort. I wish all the garden soil was as good as this but I'm going to mulch the lot if I can obtain free loads of wood chips from local tree surgeons; the lawn is going to go giving over to flowers and shrubs.

I just thought I'd share this information because the contrast between the soil under the hedge and the soil under the lawn simply couldn't be greater. I'm starting to understand no dig gardening.

Kind regards, Colin.

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That is interesting Colin and a good reminder of how important mulching is. When i extended my cottage garden area, a large irregular amoeba shape in the middle of my block, i did as advised. Planted and then covered the surrounding area with layers of newspaper, grass, weeds and all, and mulch. That's about 5 years ago and the soil is quite good underneath. Ofcourse has been topped up, probably biannually, and extended. I also covered a burn off area too and the ash can be good compost in small doses.
 
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I also have clay soil. Therefore, I do not remove leaves in autumn. I only remove the leaves of decorative oak, because they suppress the growth of other plants.
I also dry the grass after mowing and lay out under the fruit trees and on the beds. Too well works.
 
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Colin

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Hi,

Many thanks Deborahjane & Larisa for your interesting replies.

After working on our bungalow for the last 30 years I can now concentrate on the gardens. Over the last few days I've been grafting removing what was mostly a Snowberry hedge. I shredded the hedge and used this as mulch. I've now dug up most of the many stumps and am still digging up the roots. Being new to gardening I've got a lot to learn but as an experiment I've formed two big piles of stumps; roots and ivy; one pile I've given a good soaking with water then covered it with a tarpaulin hopefully to retain moisture but the open pile is still growing in height daily as more roots are added. I hope eventually both piles will compost down because I don't want to cart this lot all the way down to our driveway then transport it to the tip which would be time consuming; take a number of trips and with nothing to show for it; better if I can compost it?

I can't help but wonder if I'm grafting for nothing; I intend to mulch the area just planting flowers and bushes but if I don't dig up all the Snowberry roots would these roots put on new growth to torment me and give even more work in future years; I'm playing safe and taking the lot up and it's proving long and arduous also just below ground level I'm hitting stone after stone; it really is a thankless task but at least if I stick at it and get the roots out I'll be in with a chance next year with a clean patch.

The pictures show the piles of roots/stumps and the cleared area which I'm now digging the roots from; I'm about three quarters done; I've also been removing extra long Hebes which have been fighting for light under the trees; I'll plant Pachysandra and Ajuga ground cover. So much to do; so little time and at the month end we'll be plunged into darkness as we alter the clocks once again; being retired is full time with no let up. ;)

Kind regards, Colin.


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