Winter mulch

Ottawa, ON(Zone 4a)

Still trying to figure out the easiest, cheapest, most organic ways of amending the heavy soil in my beds without disturbing perennials.

I'm planning on putting on a good layer of leaf mulch for the winter, supplied free of charge by the overhanging white ash. Come spring, I'd like to just leave it and let the earthworms incorporate it into the soil. I thought that applying another layer of compost or composted manure on top of the leaves might be a good idea to prevent pests from using the leaves as a breeding ground.

Does this sound like a good plan or am I missing something important here?

In the meanwhile, the worms are already having a ball pulling the leaves into the ground. I think it's so funny when I come out in the morning and find dry leaves pulled half-way into worm tunnels.

Lyndeborough, NH

Read Ruth Stout.

Ottawa, ON(Zone 4a)

Ruth Stout of lasagna gardening? I checked out the links posted previously (probably by you) in this forum and found them very inspiring. I'm trying to figure out how to adapt it to a flower bed with perennials in it and am thinking "out loud" in the presence of more experienced people here. ;o)

Weeds are not much of an issue here - the soil is difficult and even invasive plants have died on me without sufficient babying. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have actually killed goutweed.

Kitchener, ON(Zone 5A)

I think Janet should get some sort of award... all in favor,... :)

Ottawa, ON(Zone 4a)

LOL! And Johnny-jump-ups and bachelor buttons and purple loosestrife and ...

In all fairness to the goutweed, I deliberately neglected it through the drought just to see what it could take. I always had more where that came from. ;o) Conclusion: even goutweed has its limits.

I'm a winter mulch advocate (more controversial than you'd think due to the voles/moles, etc. that move in, but so far so good for me.) I always scrape my soil bare & ring each perennial with a circle of chunky compost, then shred my fall leaves so that don't repell water & layer them on about 4" deep, then if we don't get a snow cover early on, I lay on pine branches. I almost never lose anything due to heaving or winter kill. I'm in zone 5. Honestly, vacuum up & shred ALL the leaves you can find; I do my whole neighborhood's!!

Ottawa, ON(Zone 4a)

Hmmm, no lawn mower here for shredding (I'm in a town house). I figured with the amount of snow we get around here, nothing will be able to prevent the water from getting through, at least in spring. Maybe I should not make that layer of leaves too thick, just to be on the safe side?

I use one of those electric vacumm/shredders I picked up at Lowes for about $80: works good & I use it hard. Whole leaves can really serve to repel water & they mat down more than you'll like. By shredding them, you can really fluff them up & they stay more airey. Can you borrow someone's for an afternoon?

Ottawa, ON(Zone 4a)

I'll have to check it out. Never even heard of a vacuum/shredder before... Mind you, I've never heard of Lowe's either. ;o) An American discount store?

Oh! Sorry! Lowes is like Home Depot: they are a HUGE home improvement store with a big Lawn & Garden department, a national chain store here. I could wander around Lowes all day!

Ottawa, ON(Zone 4a)

Home Depot we've got, plus some home-grown chains. I'll have a look.

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