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is removing winter mulch really neccessary?

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by howdager on April 15, 2006 11:20 AM
I read in one of my gardening books monthly schedule of things to do that I should remove my winter mulch and then next month replace with summer mulch. Is this really neccesary? It's a big pain in the butt. Am I going to regret it if I don't? I was thinking that removing the winter mulch would reduce the mold and bacteria factor and thereby result in less problems with plant diseases and problems, but I was wondering if the chance of that happening is lower than the work of removing it. Any thoughts?
by peppereater on April 15, 2006 10:06 PM
Part of it depends on what the mulch is on, and how thick it is. It will not cause any disease for the most part. You probably don't need to remove it, but you might give a few more details. The only real reason to remove winter mulch is if the ground needs to warm up for some particular plant...Garden books can be wrong about lots of things...sometimes the advice is just one person's opinion. What kind of mulch do you have, by the way? Some kinds are better than others.

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Dave
Even my growlights are getting restless!
by tkhooper on April 15, 2006 10:09 PM
Hi Howdager,

It's nice to see another virginian on the board. Removing winter mulch I'm new but I'm thinking we need to do that so the plants don't have to work so hard to get to the light. I know if bulbs have to work to hard to break through you won't get any flowers on them. And my peonies won't come up at all if they are not covered exactly with one inch of soil they won't come up at all. Of course my ornamental onions seem willing to come up through anything but they are super easy to grow.

So I would say definitely remove the winter mulch.

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by peppereater on April 15, 2006 10:12 PM
tk, you have a point, but it all depends on what's planted, and what the mulch is.

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Dave
Even my growlights are getting restless!
by howdager on April 15, 2006 11:02 PM
Its pine mulch and pretty soft. I went out this morning and picked up some and it was REALLY matted and had white mildew or mold underneath. Then I checked elsewhere and its not mattted and still loose. Maybe that should be the determining factor?
Thanks for all the input everybody.
by peppereater on April 15, 2006 11:08 PM
Is it pine bark, shredded wood or needles?
Depending on what you've got in those beds, it might be okay to leave it anyway. The mildew or mold that's on it is defferent than the kinds that would get on plants, it's just a sign that the stuff is breaking down. It's composting where it sits, and that could be a good thing or bad. Once it breaks down it adds nutrients. While it's breaking down it may steal a little nitrogen from the soil. It could also change the soil ph, making it somewhat more acidic...that's good for lots of things, but if it becomes a problem, a little lime or woodash will correct the ph.

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Dave
Even my growlights are getting restless!
by morninglori on April 18, 2006 09:10 AM
I left about a foot of autumn leaves in my beds as mulch. Every plant came up above it, except for the lantana, that I had to dig out. I think Dave is right. It depends on the weight and moisture content of the mulch. I've never replaced my mulch. In fact, I've never heard of it either.
by loz on April 18, 2006 09:22 AM
I use cypress mulch and I have never removed it in the 4 years we've lived here......I just aerate it a bit and mix in new mulch each spring.

I've never had a problem with disease, mold, or plants not being able to push out of it. [dunno]
by peppereater on April 19, 2006 04:34 AM
I totally agree with Loz, in most cases there's no reason to get rid of mulch...once it's there, for the most part, it only does good things.
Morninglory...that's a lot of leaves! That indeed could be too much, I'm glad that has worked out. [thumb]

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Dave
Even my growlights are getting restless!

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