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Denbighshire, United Kingdom Gb

If I cover my borders with bark chipping how can I feed the plants? Does it haver to be a liquid feed?



Do you mean wood chips as a mulch? First of all, never run the wood chips right up to the main stem of the plant or any bush. Always have a clearing around the main stem of at least 18 inch circumference - like a collar. This is to discourage the spread of mold and pathogens normally present in damp wood. Also, plants don't like having their roots covered with mulch. The roots need plenty of airflow and oxygen. You'll also have a convenient place to apply the feed. I would recommend using the slow release granules. The liquid feed is too much of a deluge for the plant to take up all at once. Most of it just runs off and immediately starts to degrade. The granules will dissolve a little with each watering - applying a slow steady feed over a longer duration - a better deal for your wallet too. The exception to this would be if you use fish emulsion which is completely organic. Just add a cupful to a gallon of water.

27 Mar, 2020


Correction to above last sentence: Not 'cupful' but capful. Add a capful of fish emulsion to a gallon of water.

28 Mar, 2020


Many thanks Bathgate, that is such a helpful answer. I never knew about leaving a space around each shrub or plant.

28 Mar, 2020


You could just feed the plants before you apply the mulch. That is what we do.
Just sprinkled a lot of Blood, fish and bone over the soil and applied the mulch yesterday.
Since the mulch encourages worm activity which is good as they are the main providers of oxygen through their tunnelling activity, I cannot see how mulch cannot be good for plants.
We have been putting shredded plant material over our gardens for 50 years without losing a plant to lack of air.

28 Mar, 2020


I agree, add slow release fertilizer to the soil then add the mulch. The roots are buried in the soil so they wont be bothered by the mulch as this is pretty much what happens in the wild with leaf litter etc. As Owd says worms etc will move up and down through the soil helping to aerate it and help with water movement.

28 Mar, 2020


Good grief Owd! I didn't say the mulch cuts off air supply. Yes mulch has benefits, but there is an appropriate way to use it.

Mulch reduces weeds, conserves moisture and improves the soil, which helps your tree stay healthy! But when it comes to mulch, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Piling mulch too high and covering a tree's trunk, also known as “volcano mulching,” can cause decay.

Read the full article here:

I disagree with above:

Just scroll down to see a question about roots growing through somebody's compost pile. Also, burying the roots around the main stem with too much mulch promotes the growth of areal roots and girdling.

Here is the question I'm referring to:

My compost heaps are full of roots!

I'm talking about general maintenance here, not just the initial application.

28 Mar, 2020


Sorry Bathgate.
Mind we have been putting a good 4 to 6 inches of mulch on our garden for the last huge number of years, mainly to get rid of the chippings Never bothered keeping it away from the tree trunks either.

28 Mar, 2020


I always broadcast Growmore granules before applying bark chips or any wood chips - they take up to six weeks to dissolve and that's a perfectly adequate supply of fertilizer for a growing season for plants growing in the ground.

Bathgate is right about not allowing a thick layer of mulch (especially wood chips or inorganic mulches) to sit right up against the woody stems of plants, especially trees, but since most of us only apply about an inch of mulch, its not usually an issue, especially if its garden compost or composted horse manure because it biodegrades quite quickly anyway.

28 Mar, 2020


Grief that should have read centimetres not inches. Brain dead today.

28 Mar, 2020


I still don't understand you Owd. That''s all.

28 Mar, 2020


May I ask a secondary please?How long should you leave fresh wood chips before they are fit to be used as mulch?

28 Mar, 2020


they tend to recommend between 6-12 months. I usually leave it at least 12 months.

29 Mar, 2020


Thank you. They are rotting nicely - we had a wonderful crop of huge toadstools in the autumn! Its a big heap so enough material to get nice and hot inside.

29 Mar, 2020

How do I say thanks?

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