Mulch / Manure?

Hello, Hoping for some advice - we need to mulch our plants this year (usually the apt complex does it - not this time) So I first wanted to know Cow manure and compost could be used alone - if not would mixing it in a hardwood much be a good idea? Deborah Donovan-Navarro and Catherine Smith you have both been very helpful with my garden
  8 answers
  • Mitziblueyes Mitziblueyes on May 14, 2014
    I by far am no garden expert, but do a lot of planting. I'd mix the compost w manure and mix into the dirt. Once that's done then put mulch on top of that. The compost and man. Need to not be seen, they need to let the nutrients get into the soil next to the plants. Mulch is for holding in moisture, and used as a final touch... Like lipstick for ur garden! Again no expert but that's the way I've always fine w great success! Good luck!
  • Tanya L M Tanya L M on May 14, 2014
    Thank you @Mitziblueyes appreciate the input [And the lipstick analogy]
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on May 15, 2014
    Mitzi is correct. They should be applied separately, not combined. Put the compost or composted manure down first, then cover with mulch.
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on May 15, 2014
    I joined a Facebook group called Back to Eden gardeners this spring. This is a members only group) you just ask to join and they sign you up. They advocate using bark chips to amend the soil. These are some serious and educated gardeners and I am learning a lot.
    • Deborah Donovan-Navarro Deborah Donovan-Navarro on Jul 31, 2014
      @White Oak Studio Designs As a master gardener with 40 years of gardening under my belt in five gardens on two continents, I've used nearly every sort of mulch imaginable, including a relatively new product developed in England called Strulch (browned straw mulch). My favorite is still fine bark. The chunky stuff is a pain (it ends up all over the place and takes forever to break down) and the stuff you buy in bags has dye and other chemical contaminants and is generally chipped wood - not bark. When turned under, bark brings the soil to life with the process of breaking down. I only use well aged steer manure on my roses and when amending planting holes. That said, you can use wood in any form, including sawdust. Just bear in mind that raw wood breaking down binds up nitrogen, so you have to add nitrogen to compensate. Not so with fine bark.
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on May 15, 2014
    I garden on a Zone 5, 5-acre plot in SW Michigan with lean sandy soil. I am a lifelong (age 63) serious gardener, both perennials, shrubs and vegetables. I personally use well composted horse manure and my own compost to amend the soil. I add my own compost in the fall, top dressed around the perennials. I also use bark chips year round as a mulch on top of my beds. I was given as much horse manure this spring as I could haul, so I added some of that too. I also used the well composted horse manure in our raised vegetable beds as well as maple leaves that we put down last fall - both add humas to the soil. W are totally organic here, so no chemicals so its all about feeding the soil.
  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on May 15, 2014
    Glad to be of help, Tanya. Agree with everyone's comment above. When you mulch your plants do leave a ring of open area around the plants themselves. About 4-6 inches from the base of the plant. It's much easier to apply additional amendments and water and allows the plant "breathing room". You do not want to create "mulch volcanos" by mulching up to and around your plants or trees. That's asking for trouble, since it allows easy access to insect pests and disease.
  • I love composted horse manure and you need to know that when working with manures you will get weeds! horses eat weeds and grass and therefore exits weed seeds that can go into your garden. I used a few truckloads of horse manure to amend the soil in my front lawn and fought weeds for a season. Now for flower beds, if you keep beds mulched with at least 4" of mulch, then you can keep weeds down to a minimum plus as it breaks down your soil will improve dramatically! It took 4 years but I mulched a bed every spring (no plants in it just mulched) and now it grows this (pic)
    • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on May 17, 2014
      @The Garden Frog with C Renee I can relate to that little surprise. LOL However, most manures if composted contain very few weed seeds. The stuff needs to be composted either in a "hot" compost pile, or allowed to sit and compost itself for at least a year. Same thing with using straw instead of hay for mulch. You want to ask for "builder's" straw which contains few weed seeds. Works like a charm.
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Jul 31, 2014
    You can compost your FRESH horse manure for a year or so and heat out and kill those weed seeds. The manure I use is more than two years old and had just a few weeds in it. It was well worth a few weeds to get the amazing growth using well composted horse manure. Especially when it is free! With horse or cow manure you will always risk some weeds. Chicken manure has to be composted too as it is too hot to put down as is. Personally being/eating organic (vs. using chemicals) is worth a few weeds to me.
    • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Aug 01, 2014
      @White Oak Studio Designs Absolutely. And as you build your soil, you'll find you have fewer and fewer weeds to contend with.