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Best mulches for my fruit trees

 
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I've  been trying different mulches on my peaches for a couple years now jut they're still young and I think I over prunes them. Any ideas on how to boost their growth and what mulches are the Best?
 
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We get free mulch from a tree service and use it for everything.... A very thick and wide ring around fruit trees (a foot deep.and 5' wide) but like a doughnut so that the mulch doesn't touch the trunk. And you can plant some companion plants in and around too... Many ground covers will act as a mulch and give nutrients too! I'm thinking of groundnut and comfrey, but others will have more ideas!
 
pollinator
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I highly recommend doing just as Cat described. Every year when I mulch my fruit trees I try to grow the ring a bit and under plant more things. Also, I cannot recommend comfrey as a chop and drop mulch enough and I also like to grow many of the various pea varieties like pigeon pea nearby as more chop and drop mulch that is also fixing nitrogen into the soil. Both of those will double as chicken feed if you need as well. Also, consider inoculating with beneficial fungi if able. Best of luck!
 
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Location: East Tennessee, zone 7A-ish
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When I lived in the city, my peach trees were mulched with shredded fall leaves. As Cat and Aimee said, a doughnut shape surrounding the tree maybe as far out as the drip line, but not touching the trunk. I left the 10-12 inches closest to the trunk with just a little 'dusting' of leaves. Since the leaves break down more quickly than sawdust or wood chips, the trees get the nutrients sooner, and you can pile the leaf mulch higher.

If your trees are struggling or you just want to give them a bit of a boost, you could water with some compost or manure tea. I wouldn't overdo that though.

As far as the "best" mulch- I usually consider what I can get my hands on in sufficient quantity to be pretty great!

 
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Location: British Columbia, Canada
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I have been mulching my young butternut trees with pieces of branches I pruned from other trees, mainly elm and black locust, something akin to remial wood chips. The big problem with using wood chips is that often they come from branches larger than 6" in diameter, wood this size tends to be mostly carbon, without much other nutrient, which is good for certain situations, but bad for growies as high carbon materials will sponge up nitrogen. This means if you mulch growies with wood chips that are not remial,  the wood chips will soak up and lock nitrogen away from the growies until the chips break down.

Taking smaller branches(less than 6" inches in diameter, though less than 2 inches seems ideal), either pruned or fallen, and cutting them into 6 - 12 inch long segments then mulching the ground around the tree seems to work well, it promotes a fungal soil, and emulates a natural forest floor,  the branches tend to take longer to break down than woodchips, while still providing a steady recycling of nutrients back into the soil, meaning you will not have to remulch as soon.

For your young tree, to promote vegetative growth start feeding nitrogen, you can use diluted urine, or manure rich compost, and start a living mulch by planting alfalfa near the base of the tree, which releases nitrogen everytime you chop and drop, as well its a perennial with a deep taproot.

Since the tree was also overpruned you will also want to feed some phosphorus too, to bost root production, wood ash is a good source for that, but make sure you only use doled wood, plywood contains toxins, and treated lumber has even more toxins!

And please please plant comfrey as a living mulch, it really is the best understood plant there is.
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pollinator
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Dylan Urbanovich wrote:The big problem with using wood chips is that often they come from branches larger than 6" in diameter, wood this size tends to be mostly carbon, without much other nutrient, which is good for certain situations, but bad for growies as high carbon materials will sponge up nitrogen. This means if you mulch growies with wood chips that are not remial,  the wood chips will soak up and lock nitrogen away from the growies until the chips break down.



In my experience, as long as chips (or bigger unchipped wood] is just used as a mulch (i.e. only on the surface and not mixed into the soil), there isn't an issue with nitrogen getting locked up. Nitrogen does not seem to migrate up out of the soil and into the mulch. Heavily chips-from-bigger-wood-mulched trees in our orchard have grown very well with no sign of nitrogen deficiency, for years now and from the beginning.
 
gardener
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Lately I've been making a mix of wood chips/leaves and rabbit manure & wool and using it on the surface as mulch; which seems to be working for the trees.
Chives (and other alliums) tend to be good living mulch/ground cover, as do strawberries and ground cherries (although they can't take as much foot traffic).
Oftentimes I consider the "best" mulch to be whatever I have an abundance of at the time
 
Dylan Urbanovich
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Location: British Columbia, Canada
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greg mosser wrote:

Dylan Urbanovich wrote:The big problem with using wood chips is that often they come from branches larger than 6" in diameter, wood this size tends to be mostly carbon, without much other nutrient, which is good for certain situations, but bad for growies as high carbon materials will sponge up nitrogen. This means if you mulch growies with wood chips that are not remial,  the wood chips will soak up and lock nitrogen away from the growies until the chips break down.



In my experience, as long as chips (or bigger unchipped wood] is just used as a mulch (i.e. only on the surface and not mixed into the soil), there isn't an issue with nitrogen getting locked up. Nitrogen does not seem to migrate up out of the soil and into the mulch. Heavily chips-from-bigger-wood-mulched trees in our orchard have grown very well with no sign of nitrogen deficiency, for years now and from the beginning.



Thank You, I have been reading a lot about how N does not go above the soil surface lately.

The point i was trying to get across was that wood chips from branches smaller than 6" contain nutrients, which is to say the chips from these branches would act like mulch and fertilizer... Mulchilizer!

apologies if my statement was unclear.
 
Aimee Hall
pollinator
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In my experience the mulch does not bind up the nitrogen unless planted into. However, the layer of mulch not only seems to provide a more welcome home for our beneficial friends like worms and fungi but also seems to condition the soil beneath it as these beneficials very slowly mix the broken down mulch layer into the soil itself. As well as the benefits of water retention.

I really cannot believe the changes I have seen on my farm in Missouri through the use of carefully places mulch. When I moved in there were large stretches of barren red clay with small to medium rock mixed in. Over the course of a few years, the largest patches of clay had even become covered with ground cover and most areas were covered in a few inches of soil which I consider a huge difference and most of it without bringing in outside inputs. I did have some donated materials I certainly didn't say no to but those were still in piles when I left because I just didn't have enough time to do anything with them being busy moving.

These results and the fact that even during our draught periods through summer I'd check my trees and they didn't need watered, really made me a believer in taking the time to mulch up my smaller fallen/cut branches. Though the very thin branches like from my siberian pea shrubs I  just left whole. And I also used fall leaves which I had a ton of because I had so many oak trees and the neighbors leaves also all blew into my yard every year, which they thought was hilarious and I saw as free organic matter. =D
 
                              
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Wood chips can be good mulch for your fruit tree. Wood chips work on different ways for you such as suppress weeds, keeps soil cooler. It will also prevent some microorganisms disease.
 
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