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empty beds and leaf mold ,mulch etc

(5 Posts)
gingeroots Thu 17-Sep-15 08:33:46

Ok - I have been clearing overgrown garden ,pulling up ivy ,borage etc .

I'm not sure now what to do - I will plant some bulbs ( a first ) but should I then leave until spring and plant up ? Or add mulch for overwinter ?

As for mulch ...the easiest thing for me would be to tip bags of Lidl bark chippings . I do have two black plastic bags of leaves but they're not leaf mold .They're too dry ,full of ants and mainly sycamore leaves .I also have quite a lot of windfall apples .Oh and damp new leaves descending .

I was planning on tipping the leaves into pop up gardening bags ( £1.99 from Poundstretcher ) ,wetting and mixing with ...?

Should I punch a few holes in the pop up bag ? What should I mix with ?

So ....should I leave bare earth bare or use bark chippings .( my soil is not that good ,London clay )

how can I easily create mulch ? My garden is not v accessible - we're a top flat and have to traipse down lots of stairs ,out the front door ,across the forecourt ,squeeze down between 2 houses and then down 100ft sodden path . So not really into composting kitchen waste ,tho I suppose I could

Any advice gratefully accepted .

shovetheholly Thu 17-Sep-15 11:37:10

Plant those bulbs first!

Then, if possible, I would buy some inexpensive compost/leaf mould mixture and apply that in a good thick coating over the top of the bare soil (you will need LOTS to do this). It will keep weeds down, but it will decompose and get incorporated into the soil over the next 6-12 months. This means that nutrients are being delivered to your plants!

The thing about bark is it's designed to sit on top of the surface - it will decompose slowly compared to compost/leafmould. It is designed to act more like a kind of organic intermediate between compost and aggregate. So while it will lock in moisture and keep down weeds, and while it will slowly decompose and release some nutrients it won't be the black nutritious gold that mulch is!

Another idea would be to plant a green manure over the winter, ready to dig in next spring. This will fix nitrogen into your soil and improve the texture, though not usually by as much as compost will. However, it is a bit cheaper.

Then you can get making compost and leaf mould for next year. (It is hard to produce enough and you may still need to buy some, but every little helps!). Leaf mould can take a couple of years. Just shove the leaves in a plastic bin liner and fork it through so there are holes for air and water to get in and out. Then leave it somewhere you can't see it and forget about it for 24 months. It goes pretty icky, so it's a bit of a waste to use nice bags for this.

For your kitchen waste, you could consider a bokashi bin which could sit outside your flat! grin. A bokashi bin is a box with a removable lid and a tap at the bottom. You can put virtually anything in it that isn't a teabag. You put in raw/used kitchen waste, press it down to exclude air, then sprinkle over a special bran. This will gradually ferment the contents. Once full, you leave the bin for 3-4 weeks (so really you need two to alternate). Then you have two products: firstly, you can open the tap and run off a dark liquid that can be used to feed your garden plants. It is full of nitrogen so very good for them. Then you have the pickled waste, which you can dump into a compost heap once the process is complete, combining dozens of trips down the garden into one! (As you probably know, you can buy cheap compost bins from the council. Your rotten windfalls can go in there too!).

The bokashi bin doesn't smell because it is enclosed and has a lid, but you may get a whiff of the fermentation when you open it to add in new matter.

shovetheholly Thu 17-Sep-15 11:39:45

Oh, and in terms of planting - it's by no means too late to get in shrubs, winter bedding, and even some of the woodier perennials and it's actually a bit early to plant trees (you want to wait til after leaf fall for that,and you want to make sure they are in before buds burst really).

I would wait to plant most perennials and any grasses til the spring though. Anything that doesn't like wet/cold conditions, like mediterranean herbs, is also best left.

gingeroots Thu 17-Sep-15 11:54:16

Wow you're good aren't you holly ! Great answers .

Off to google bookashi bin ,winter bedding and local council re compost bins . Tho the latter will either have to be v small or flat packed to get down the side of my house .

Thanks a million !

shovetheholly Thu 17-Sep-15 15:20:15

I don't know about that - I regularly get things wrong and there are proper professional people on this forum who know 1,000 times as much as me! I just love gardening and am trying to learn as much as I can! I also love my bokashi bin and bore everyone here to tears about it at the slightest provocation.


Council bins are about 80cm diameter I would guess (rough estimate). If that's a problem, you can build one for free out of pallets or get kits that are flat-pack, but the latter are more expensive.

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