Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cold weather

The hoar frost of January was fantastic - the field looked wonderful with frozen seedheads like the ones in glossy magazines. Now that it has all melted we are back to looking at mushy brown leaves and emerging weeds. The weeding has begun properly - grubbing away with an old kitchen fork at creeping buttercups and hoing off the chick weed. I have got 7 tons of mushroom compost which I shall be using as a mulch over all the raised beds this year. The idea is that it will be put on each bed just after weeding - put on about 4 inches deep - to exclude light and stop any weed seeds from germinating. This all has to be done before the plants put on much growth as that I don't inadvertently smother them as well.
Mushroom compost should work well as a mulch - it is light, dense and weedfree and will gradually rot down and enrich the soil. On a much smaller scale I used mushroom compost from Silver Birch to mulch in my last garden and over a couple of years it built up fantastic crumbly loam from what had been a sticky clay. The only problem with it is that it contains lime chips, so should not be used with acid loving plants such as rhododendrons.

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