Neither. Don’t use chipped mulch OR shredded mulch. Both of those will rob the precious nitrogen from the ground that your plants need.
Nitrogen is vital for healthy plants because it’s a major component of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the compound by which plants convert sunlight into sugars from water and carbon dioxide. Nitrogen is also a major component of amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins.
Plants are unable to use or take nitrogen directly from the atmosphere. They must uptake it through nitrogen forms that include ammonium and nitrate.
So, what should you use instead of chipped or shredded mulch? Composted mulch!
I found this interesting article from VisitKent.co.uk that I’d like to share, about the beauty of Kent.
In Kent, spectacular scenery invites great escapes. Make sure you get out and about to explore some of the county’s special landscapes.
A third of Kent is covered by Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including the 878 sq km Kent Downs from the White Cliffs of Dover to London’s fringe – a liberating expanse rich in orchids, butterflies and big-horizon views. The High Weald AONB is a 560 sq mi patchwork of flower meadows, woodlands and rolling hills. Discover picturesque villages, oast houses and a wealth of wildlife, from dormice to nightjars.
Kent’s unmissable White Cliffs are another remarkable landscape to explore. Events run by the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership range from coppicing and scrub-clearing to family strolls and nature rambles. There’s no charge for some trips – making for memorable free days out.
At Romney Marsh the earth meets the sea in a low-lying, unique landscape that delivers mind-expanding views. Explore its haunting beauty through the guided walks, cycle rides and events run by the Romney Marsh Countryside Project. The marshes of the Isle of Sheppey and the Hoo Peninsula provide even more wrap-around views.
Bird and wildlife packs the chalky cliffs, caves and stacks of the Thanet Coast. Imaginative events run by the Thanet Coast Project include geology-themed beach rambles.
Kent’s rolling landscape is flecked with ancient forests, hushed magical places carpeted with bluebells, bracken and full of twisted trees. A highlight is Blean Woods, near Canterbury, at 11 square miles it’s the largest area of ancient woodland in England. Waymarked trails wind between the foliage, revealing everything from woodpeckers and tree creepers to orchids and artworks.
Kent has countless other memorable natural places – the Kent Wildlife Trust runs a whopping 61 nature reserves while the 12 Kent Country Parks encompass riverbanks, grasslands, meadows and ancient woods. Meaning you’re never far from discovering your own special Kentish landscape.
“So what do professional gardeners do in the winter months?“
It’s a question I get asked all the time. A lot of people assume there’s not a lot that can be done in the garden during the winter, however this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact I have a little saying “what you don’t get done over winter, never gets done.”
The weather might be on the colder side, but it’s a great time to do some of the heavier tasks like digging over vegetable beds, as the ground will be a lot easier to work this time of year.
Don’t forget to protect your perennials during the cold winter months!
Give all your borders a good mulch of compost at least 4 inches thick. This will protect your perennials from the worst of the winter frosts, feed the plants and enrich the soil. Best of all, when the weather eventually warms up, it will stop lots of the weeds. That’s got to be a winner.
Tree work is always best done over winter, as the sap is down and the tree will be dormant. There’s also less disease floating around in the air that could get into fresh cuts and pass on diseases.
Also, with the leaves off of the trees you can better see the shape of the tree and what the branches are doing much easier.
Remember the three D’s:Dead, Diseased and Dying.
Make sure to remove any branches that are rubbing together as this can also lead to disease and fungal infections.
Lifting and dividing perennials is best left until the weather improves slightly however it’s a good idea to make notes, or take photos of your border in summer. Some perennials will be more dominant in the border than others and can take over if not kept in check. Simply dig them up and divide them. They can be moved to fill gaps in another part of the border or given away to friends and family. Who doesn’t love a free plant!
The compost bins will need looking at. Undoubtedly your good intentions of mixing them every few weeks and adding the right ratio of carbon and nitrogen have gone down the pan but don’t let that bother you. Just build a new bin and move the contents from the old one. Mix in equal measures of straw and grass clippings.
If you managed to make some decent compost last year now is the time to put all those lovely nutrients back into the beds. Your plants will thank you for it in the spring.
Another thing that tends to get forgotten about over winter is the greenhouse. I use mine to store all my tender plants that live in pots on the patio over summer. It’s important to remember fungus can thrive in warm moist conditions. The trick is to air it out on walmer days and give the glass a good clean with fungicidal wash before spring gets going.
If the winter isn’t too cold you can use your greenhouse to grow winter salad, and to start seedlings.
Frosty cold fresh mornings in January and February are some of the best memories I have as a professional gardener. There is something magical about being out and about in the cold crisp air, and definitely a feeling of satisfaction when you eventually get home. There is plenty to be done over the winter months and a great deal of accomplishment knowing you have pushed the garden on to be even better when spring finally arrives.