Gardening with Xpress: Leaf mulch, mushroom compost and dahlias!


Hi there neighbors, Chloe below, again once again with some more gardening guidance. This month’s reader thoughts had been about mulch, compost and dahlias. We’ll explore the characteristics and makes use of of leaf mulch compared to mushroom compost, how to independent and plant dahlia tubers and some recommendations for caring for dahlias as soon as they are in ground.

A reminder to email me your issues at gardening@mountainx.com. I just cannot wait around to listen to from you!

Which is improved for a vegetable backyard garden, leaf mulch or mushroom compost?

Each leaf mulch and mushroom compost can be terrific backyard amendments. In simple fact, they have a lot in common. Just about every one provides some of the same compounds and attributes to your yard, these kinds of as natural and organic issue and trace minerals. On the other hand, they are distinct, and just one or the other may possibly be more suited to your unique scenario.

First, let us dive into some definitions: What are leaf mulch and mushroom compost?

Leaf mulch is just what it sounds like: decomposed leaves that have fallen from the numerous lovely and generous deciduous trees that share these mountains with us. Frequently, you can discover luggage of leaves cost-free for the using on curbsides all through the fall. In some cases these leaves will be mixed with dry pine needles, which are considerably less suitable to add to the garden owing to their acidity. A handful of pine needles are good, but my definition of leaf mulch includes a greater part of broad-leafs. When you pile up the dry leaves and enable them crumble and crack down, they completely transform into leaf mulch.

Mushroom compost is a minimal less easy. It’s basically the leftover substrate that industrial culinary mushrooms have been developed on. Following mushroom farmers are finished with it, they compost it, then bag it up and sell it to us gardeners. In accordance to the Oregon Point out College Extension Service, “the recipe for mushroom compost differs from business to organization but can incorporate composted wheat or rye straw, peat moss, made use of horse bedding straw, chicken manure, cottonseed or canola food, grape crushings from wineries, soybean food, potash, gypsum, urea, ammonium nitrate and lime.”

Some of these components, notably horse bedding straw, cottonseed, canola and soybean meal, may possibly harbor sizeable pesticide residues and/or genetically modified contamination. When you obtain mushroom compost, there may well or may perhaps not be a precise listing of ingredients on the bag, so it is a bit of a gamble as to what you’re acquiring.

As I by now mentioned, both equally are incredibly higher in natural and organic matter, which allows loosen the soil, feed soil microorganisms, enhance h2o retention and drainage (is not that magical‽) and strengthen root growth and nutrient mobility in the soil. Leaf mulch is larger in trace minerals, since the leaves grew on deep-rooted perennial trees. Mushroom compost is bigger in nitrogen, which boosts eco-friendly expansion of all plants, and phosphorus, which supports fruiting and flowering.

The downsides of leaf mulch are that it is lower in nitrogen, so it does not act as a fertilizer for every se, and it will take a bit of elbow grease to collect and make. Mushroom compost has its flaws, much too. For 1, you can not just accumulate it from the forest or neighborhood yard cleanups it expenses funds. On top of that, mushroom compost can be significant in dissolved salts. This suggests it is not mild plenty of for germinating seeds, extremely younger vegetation or salt-delicate veggies like turnip, radish, carrot, onion and lettuce.

How to use leaf mulch and mushroom compost in the garden?

Both equally very well-damaged down leaf mulch (not just crumbled-up fresh leaves) and mushroom compost can be combined into garden soil all through mattress preparation, even though mushroom compost should not be included like this if you prepare to immediate-sow seeds. Fewer-damaged down leaf mulch performs properly when spread atop the soil surface, close to veggie vegetation. Used in this way, it can suppress weeds and improve drinking water retention even though slowly and gradually breaking down to feed the soil. To utilize mushroom compost right after the reality, it is very best to dig it in carefully close to the base of founded crops. These rich sources of organic issue and other plant nutrition can be added any time of calendar year and will gain your yard soil for several years to occur.

What’s the very best way to separate dahlia tubers?

Dahlias, like potatoes, store their power as a result of the wintertime in underground tubers. At the time the soil warms up in spring, sprouts pop up out of “eyes” that expand into the luscious flowering beauties we adore. Dahlia tubers, which are residing, breathing storage organs, will die if they freeze. So, a lot of gardeners dig them up in the slide and store them in awesome (but not freezing), moist situations right until spring planting.

Dahlia F. D. Richards Flickr