There are many rumors out there that somehow become common knowledge that are very detrimental to whatever the cause is.
Mulching trees is one of them. I am so saddened when I see trees mulched up to their lower branches, called ‘Mulch Volcanoes’. If the truck of your tree looks the same as a telephone pole, there’s too much mulch on it!!! The tree should flare out where it comes out of the ground.
Sadly, homeowners see this and think this is the correct way to go and the vicious cycle continues. Professionallandscapers do it all the time just to fill their pockets, telling you it’s horticulturally correct. Don’t fall for it! You DO NOT need to add mulch to your beds yearly. It is a good idea to cultivate what is still there, though. My advice is to apply biannually or where it may have eroded.
There are many problems that a mulch volcano can cause. Girdling roots, poor growth, mold to name a few.. However, crown rot rates as a number one worst issue. One stiff breeze is all it will take. Notice in the photo to the right, the trunk snapped off right at the mulch-line. These types of happenings can cause some costly repairs. Mulch volcanoes are sneaky. This tree looked completely healthy. Sometimes a tree with a lot of gumption will grow large, however the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
Here are my PeeGee Hydrangea trees, PROPERLY mulched, which looked to have survived my fall planting. You can clearly see the root flair at the top of the mulch line. I really only put enough over the rootball to make it the same color/blend well with the mulch doughnut.
Below is a reality check. Look how high that mulch was! 😯
Staying organized is an important part of successful gardening. Utilizing the off-season to organize affords more time during the growing season to dedicate to the plants. It also helps me pass the long, dark months of winter!
Start by creating something to accumulate records in such as a 3-ring binder, calendar or file box. Training oneself during the growing season to take quick notes, photos and to keep the information together (I have a basket I throw it all in).
Information that should be recorded:
Planting dates with the receipt – some nurseries offer a 1-year warranty
After replacing store tags with longer lasting ones, write the install date on it
Photos should be downloaded, printed and identified
Vegetable plot layouts – as crop rotation is essential
Names and locations of seeds collected
Ornamental layouts to help with identification
Annuals that have worked in the past and flat quantities
Insect and disease problems, along with remedies used in the past
Plants to thin and share with others
Note of fertilization times – not just a date, but the surrounding conditions and weather as well
Overwintered bulb names can be directly written on with water soluble pen
Pest spray times [although not calendar specific] for reminders
Labeling plants within the garden helps develop identification skills & saves memory cells 😉 Labels can be ready-made ceramic, bamboo, metal, actual seed packets or cut up plastic recyclables into strips. Labels should always be placed similarly such as always at the north side of the plant to easily find them later. When attaching a tag to a plant using a wire or string, don’t strangle the branch, apply loosely to allow for growth.
Another great way to keep organized is to start a garden blog! Take photos of each area of your garden on a scheduled basis. If you’re really ambitious, take photos of each plant. Even if you don’t know the name of the plant, by publishing the photo, someone may comment the name. WordPress is a great (free) platform to use for this. (WP did not pay me to write that!)
Lastly, if you are in Northeastern Illinois or Southern Wisconsin, you can take advantage of a coaching session with me that can produce a list of your plants, along with gardening tasks and when to perform them.