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Living mulch?

Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:37 pm
by green_pea
Tried trawling the internet for ideas but none came up. I've just planted two fruit trees (plum) in big containers in the garden made out of pallets, there's loads of bare soil around the trees as they're only tiny with skinny trunks so was wondering about using the space on the top of the soil for something to utilize the space but also offer some shade and stop soil drying out in the sun (and prevent neighbourhood kitties using it as potty).

Want something which wont put up much competition (considered summer squash for their big leaves, but heavy feeders so probably not a great idea?) Maybe nasturtiums, lettuce, strawberries?, got some cabbage seedlings..

Any ideas?

Re: Living mulch?

Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:45 pm
by diggernotdreamer
I plant the poached egg plant (limanthes douglasii) round my trees as a living mulch, they flower, then seed themselves again, they overwinter in leaf form as well, forget me knots are nice as well, primroses, all of these plants won't complete with your trees requirements, if you get too many they are easily pulled out as they don't root too deeply, and of course as well as looking pretty, they attract beneficial insects like hoverflies and bees.

Re: Living mulch?

Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:52 pm
by green_pea
I have cornflower and poppy seeds? Would they create much shade though?

Re: Living mulch?

Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:18 pm
by diggernotdreamer
They would be fine too, cornflowers can get quite bushy and a mixture of both would be lovely

Re: Living mulch?

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:14 pm
by wulf
I might be a little cautious - even trees tend to throw up a lot of their roots near the surface and it is all competition for water too.

How about dotting the surfaces of your tree containers with one or two light pots containing suitably decorative plants (or placing ones like nasturtiums in pots nearby and just directing the leaves over the top of the soil). You might still need to give extra attention to watering (although it depends if 2013 turns out to be similarly wet weather to 2012) but it will achieve a similar visual effect without the risk of root level competition.

Wulf

Re: Living mulch?

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:57 pm
by boboff
Any of the Green Manures which give back nitrogen would be good, I have seen I am sure mustard seeds being used in this instance as they are annual, quick, cheap, and will rot back in year two, however, cornlfower and poppies sound Lovely!

Re: Living mulch?

Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:32 am
by doofaloofa
Personally i would go for a non-living mulch untill the trees have established them selves

Re: Living mulch?

Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 1:18 pm
by green_pea
Humm, mixed opinions! Perhaps if I do the pots on top thing with nasturtiums and allow them to trail over mud surface for shade, plus a couple of pots of poppies. Then they'll self seed in the containers for next year when trees might be a bit better established?

Or could experiment and use non-living mulch on one tree, and living on the other. :scratch:

Re: Living mulch?

Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 1:23 pm
by niknik
green_pea wrote: Or could experiment and use non-living mulch on one tree, and living on the other. :scratch:

was going to suggest that as I read through!!
that way you can evaluate for future reference! :icon_smile: