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Using wool as garden mulch

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Using wool as garden mulch

Post by AutumnDamask on 20th June 2013, 11:06

A little background on my use of carpet wool as a mulch.
The gardens here were started in 2005. It was the height of the drought and my main rose beds ended up going on an area that had been part of the "cut" to make the housesite (we're on the side of a hill). This meant we were down to the clay and I basically needed to make raised beds because clay + drought = need a jack hammer.
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First off, the old (by now, dessicated) top soil was placed in the beds, then some sheep manure, "enriched" bedding straw, as well as a layer of newspaper in there. 
When the roses were first planted (poor darlings) it was a bit tough and then I had a lovely crop of wheat/barley/lupins come up (the straw was *extra* enriched, haha) which I left to help the soil develop.

It came around to the summer and fire danger was very high and I wanted to put another layer of mulch on but... straw is pretty flammable..
I had a lot of overlength carpet wool (6"+) hanging about as at the time it was unsellable. My reasoning then went: wool is reasonably flame retardant, worms love wool and it's free.

So I started using it. I put down the weeping hose underneath.
The next winter I would use straw again. And so on.

My observations on its use:
1. Not all wool is suitable. Carpet wool is ideal (from breeds such as Drysdale, Tukidale). It layers itself well. It's long and very white. Wool from "downs" sheep (ie. most of the meat breeds) is awful. It's too springy and won't separate. Blegh.  Short merino wool - like daggy locks and bad urine stain - also works but merino wool is higher in oils and I've found it's inclined to get green algae in the winter. (No big deal really - just a visual thing)

2. It will break down. Especially when you add a winter layer of straw or lucerne hay.

3. Water retention: like all thick mulch there is the tendency for the mulch to absorb the first lot of rain/watering that goes on. Which is why I have had the watering system underneath the mulch. And I will hand water judiciously - like just after it has rained or just before.

4. Insulation - it's pretty good actually...

5. It can look scrappy before you put the next season's layer of manure/straw on top.

6. No mulch is perfect - there will always be a few weeds etc etc

7. You can have it too thick - like any mulch.

8. Very fresh wool on a hot day is bad. The oils can burn water shoots/green stems. I try to have the wool down during the spring so by the time the hot weather comes the oils have been reduced(and I don't have it flush against the stems.)

I've found it useful as an extra organic layer to build up the beds. I don't like using euc mulch - the oils in *that* are more likely to affect the hydration potential of the soil.


The new layer installed before last summer:
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(It's still mostly there too.)
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AutumnDamask

Number of posts : 1360
Location : Benalla, Victoria
Registration date : 2011-06-08

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Re: Using wool as garden mulch

Post by AutumnDamask on 20th June 2013, 11:10

And in case you were wondering - here's what the carpet sheep look like:

Meet a couple of my Drysdales:
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AutumnDamask

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Re: Using wool as garden mulch

Post by Balinbear on 20th June 2013, 20:54

Nice looking sheep!

No I am not a Kiwi.
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Re: Using wool as garden mulch

Post by AutumnDamask on 20th June 2013, 21:51

That's okay - the sheep are from New Zealand... Wink
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Re: Using wool as garden mulch

Post by neptune on 20th June 2013, 21:53

Balinbear wrote:Nice looking sheep!

No I am not a Kiwi.
 
 
 
Maybe a Kiwi in the making there, Gary.......[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
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Number of posts : 2418
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Re: Using wool as garden mulch

Post by zephy on 21st June 2013, 05:58

Thank you so much for all that info it was fantastically informative. And your sheep are obviously winners. They made me realize that I miss seeing sheep in paddocks. Sheep in the Riverina where I was born are definitely not as attractive as your Drysdales. Do you run meat sheep also or are you exclusively aimed at the carpet industry. Do you market carpet wool as a mulch product and if so where would I source it. If it is not  for sale you may have to put up with me sniveling around the shearing shed collecting dags!!!!
Lanolin, of course lanolin. Jeez one of those seniors moments.
Now how about a photo and info of the roses you have growing over that lovely white

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Re: Using wool as garden mulch

Post by The Lazy Rosarian on 21st June 2013, 06:00

Love the "BEERsheba" part of the name.
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Re: Using wool as garden mulch

Post by jordan71 on 21st June 2013, 07:31

nice pics wendy
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Re: Using wool as garden mulch

Post by silkyfizz on 21st June 2013, 21:09

Thank you Wendy, very interesting and just goes to show how resourceful you are!
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Re: Using wool as garden mulch

Post by betsyw on 22nd June 2013, 15:46

That smug, studly ram looks like he belongs in a Broadway musical - he's even smiling.
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Re: Using wool as garden mulch

Post by neptune on 22nd June 2013, 16:46

betsyw wrote:That smug, studly ram looks like he belongs in a Broadway musical - he's even smiling.

Maybe he is an "Aussie" ram..... Wink
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