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Living Mulch

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Living Mulch

Post by Ozeboy on 7th January 2012, 08:36

Due to all this wet weather I have proved beyond doubt that roses with living mulch right up to them suffer less fungus and grow better than those in bare or heavily dry mulched beds.
Most of mine are standing in the lawn though underplanting with short annuals would achieve the same result. For those of you who consider living mulch competes with the roses must realise grass roots are no more than 100mm deep and rose roots 300mm deep.

The down side is the extra work required to keep them looking tidy. I find very little loss of fertiliser via the grasses which is applied when the lawn is clipped around the rose. The need for watering is reduced and there is a very good balance of worms, aphids and preditor wasps in my no spray garden. I do lightly fertilise with organics every 6 to 8 weeks rather than 2 or 3 times a year. There appears to be a wonderful balance around these plants that I could never get with traditional garden beds.

In contrast, the weeded regularly bed with 100mm of potting mix spread on top is a real mess. Nothing looks right and nearly all have completely defoliated. However this will remain as my wife loves everything uniform with edgeing straight enough to make a surveyor proud.

This may not be for you though my observations are based on many years of growing and propagating roses.

Ozeboy

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Location : Glenorie, Sydney NSW
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Re: Living Mulch

Post by Bonita18 on 7th January 2012, 11:53

Bruce
One of my friends who is a retired farmer has all his roses mulched with clover and they seem to really like it.

Bonita18

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Re: Living Mulch

Post by newforold on 7th January 2012, 13:11

I was weeding this morning and saying very bad words about groundcovers - would you class them as living mulch?. They don't grow thickly enough to prevent the weeds coming up through them and looking awful, but they make the weeds much harder to get at. I now avoid groundcovers in favour of mulching heavily with straw (endless supply due to failed hay crop last year). I don't have roses in beds by themselves, but in informal beds densely planted with shrubs and perennials. The plant cover is so thick you don't see much of the mulch and it is much easier to keep on top of the weeds.
Maree

newforold

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Re: Living Mulch

Post by Guest on 7th January 2012, 15:45

Walter Duncan uses strawberries as living mulch; I've tried it in a limited area for a year or so, and the rose in the middle is coping OK. They are a bit thirsty though.

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Re: Living Mulch

Post by RitaG on 7th January 2012, 17:42

Bruce, we must have been on the same wave length as I was out there with my camera shooting anything that moved yesterday seeing that it was a beautiful cool, cloudy day Very Happy

Looking through my Photographer I soon discovered that I captured a few images that I hope will illustrate your observations. What you say has worked in my previous garden and is also working in this one. The roses have not lost their vigor and don't seem the worse for wear apart from a very hot, windy day when all the blooms get burned anyway. The front garden has few if any weeds at all, and most of these grow in between the round stepping stones.

I've uploaded the photos on Facebook and made them public so even if you are not on FB you should be able to see them at this link: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
(I've updated the previous link which was accessible only to FB users, this is now available non FB users - my apology for any inconvenience).

Maree, its a shame that groundcovers aren't working for you. I found that most of my groundcovers, needed some attention for the first growing season, then they needed no further attention. I have to admit though, that they did love lashings of water and food for the first spring.

Margaret, I have loads of strawberry plants growing amongst my roses in the front garden. I haven't noticed that they are any more thirsty than other companion plants. I will go out an have a look. They do still produce yummy, juicy berries towards the edge of the garden - its a bit shaded for them further in. The other good ground cover that I haven't captured in the above snaps is the cranesbill geraniums - I love their incence (?) type scent.


Last edited by RitaG on 8th January 2012, 16:11; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : corrected FB link)
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Re: Living Mulch

Post by Admin on 7th January 2012, 19:53

Ajuga and Catmint work very well around bush roses as does Vinca minor and Violets. I love catmint around the roses.

Rita, it says the content is unavailable (I'm not logged into FB).

Admin

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Re: Living Mulch

Post by Admin on 7th January 2012, 19:57

Oh.. Crocus also is great around roses!

Link works if I'm logged into FB.

Admin

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Re: Living Mulch

Post by Meryl on 7th January 2012, 22:01

Good heavens! That didn't take long, Rita. How old is your garden now? Two years? You're a magician.

Meryl

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Re: Living Mulch

Post by RitaG on 8th January 2012, 10:14

Sorry, copied the wrong link: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Meryl, thank you, that's very kind of you.

I began work on the front garden in July, 2009, so that makes it 2.5 yrs old. The back was planted in Oct, 2010 and is still a WIP.
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Re: Living Mulch

Post by Ozeboy on 8th January 2012, 11:09

Would suggest matting type under plants, Rita's idea of strawberries is a good one but nothing beats clover. Bonita, thanks for jogging my ex dairy farming memory. Clover was considered very beneficial in those days for replacing nitrogen in the soil. Your dairy farming friend obviously went to the same school as myself. Paspalum ( Not suitable for ground covers) and Clover pasture mix was considered ideal for dairy cattle. However clover for living mulch would be ideal.

Anyone living in a very cool climate that experieces nightly frosts and snow would be advised to use dead mulch as it generates heat as it breaks down. Stable manure is ideal and the oaten chaff that has gone through the horse would add more warmth to the hay.

I am very good friends with a Lebanese family near who plant everything for the purpose of eating. The property looks great, even the 150 metre tree lined drive in makes good edible nuts.
If you are from this school then the strawberries are for you.

Ozeboy

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Re: Living Mulch

Post by Happy roses on 8th January 2012, 17:04

Rita's garden is beautiful.
I am starting to grow groundcover as I think it does look better, and one thing I am not short of is clover. It keeps growing through the mulch around the stems, so I may start removing the mulch, only problem is everything else creeps it too.
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Re: Living Mulch

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