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I am wondering, when is the best time to mulch , autumn or spring? what are the advantages of one against the other? any advice will be appreciated. thanks


The idea of a mulch is to seal in and conserve the moisture and act as a weed suppressant so it doesn't make a lot of difference- providing the soil is wet and not frozen



I usually do it in Autumn in case I'm late in spring and things have started to grow


Autumn for me too, providing the soil is moist. Main reason is I have loads of bulbs everywhere, so Spring mulching not always possible wthout demolishing things! I also do try & do 'mini' mulches as I revamp/replant areas. Not a problem in such a wet season as this has been. J.


I do pretty much the same as jo4eyes. I've had this garden for about 18 years now, and take every opportunity to add organic matter to the soil. I've just emptied a dumpy bag of leaf mould onto one border, and always add compost etc into new planting holes. The soil is still like dust!


I usually add leaf mulch and plenty of organic matter in the Autumn, I've room to collect next years then and by spring what has been put on the beds has broken down quite nicely and the soil is nice and black. A lot of the farmers leave organic matter in sacks outside their farms about this time of year which is free and so can collected for next autumn.

I save dalek made compost to mix with multi purpose bought in the spring. Saves on the amount needed to buy and this year multi purpose compost seemed of lesser quality than that bought in previous years so it improves the quality.      

Caz W

Does anyone else feel delighted when checking their bag/pile of last autumn's leaves and finding such lovely leaf mould and enjoy putting it on the beds/borders?  Non-gardening friends find me very strange but I'm sure I'm not alone. 

The very best mulch, I think, is seaweed. I,used to get bags of it from the beach and apply thickly to all my borders. It deterred snails etc. via its salt content and it's
"crispy" texture, and helped make my sandy loam better - alginic acid is it? I did this in autumn and by spring it had broken down well. I also robbed woodland for leaf mould (ok, not good practice) but felt I maybe imported some pest and other problems. Used loads of mushroom compost too but this had fair bit of lime. Garden compost tends to produce weeds. No perfect mulch then. Spring is probably best time but it's such a busy and hectic season. Ideally, as growth generally starts, soak ground and then mulch fairly thickly
Caz W

Christopher - do you think seaweed would help improve my clay soil too?


Clay soil here too, I take every opportunity to add sand/grit/compost whenever I can. I wouldn't advise anyone to take any material from natural sources though.

Anyone collecting seaweed from the beach would need to check their local bye laws. Where I live it's ok to collect it washed up on the beach and at this time of year there is usually a lot due to high tides and rough sea's. Picking it off rocks is a big NO.

You'd need to collect bags of the stuff for it to improve your clay soil Caroline, I'd advise horse or mushroom muck.

Seaweed is very good as a feed, pest deterrent spray and mulch though, which I start to use in the spring for the duration of the growing season up to autumn. .  

Yes, it's all change now. I live on the coast but seaweed is not easy to get or permitted. Disagree with zoomer though, you will need bags of anything to improve clay soil but seaweed.....if you can get very best soil conditioner. Look it's perfect for light soils and clay soils. I grew my best crops, my healthiest crops, when I regularly used seaweed

I'm happy to be wrong, Chris, if adding seaweed as a mulch on clay soil without using bags fulls of the stuff will improve it beyond adding anything else then tells us where we need to look it up for the advise    

No, zoomer44. My point is you DO need bags of seaweed, bags of anything to improve soil, as much as you can get. That's what I large quantities every year onto my garden. I just think seaweed is best, bag for bag. I also believe in no digging ....thick mulches over soil except for runner beans etc and when planting. When I used seaweed I used no fertiliser at all. It wasn't needed. It's all pretty academic now anyway because most of us now can't get it.
I think it's possible for me to get some seaweed. Do you need to rinse it off before using as a mulch...just wondering whether the salt could be detrimental?


I did not have any problem using seaweed. The rain washes it into the soil. No doubt someone will talk about the salt content but forget that figrat. In Cornwall here, on the islands and coasts,etc. seaweed has been used for generations without being washed or composted before use. Seaweed has mo weed seeds, no chemicals and is FREE. For vegetable patch, at least, it's perfect
carolinesmith wrote (see)

Does anyone else feel delighted when checking their bag/pile of last autumn's leaves and finding such lovely leaf mould and enjoy putting it on the beds/borders?  Non-gardening friends find me very strange but I'm sure I'm not alone. 

Yes, Caroline. I always feel chuffed to see my lovely compost and leafmould and still think it's a wondrous thing to come from a pile of unwanted vegetation.  :- )

Paul N

Me too. Once the autumn leaves have fallen on the lawn, I rake them into a pile and go over the pile with a motor mower, storing the damp leaves in black bin liners. So in a few weeks I will tip out last years leaf mould and mulch some of the borders. I've been doing this for years and can never understand why many people burn theirs or tip the leaves into wheelie bins. Such waste!

Sorry Chris, misread your post but agree seaweed is an excellent soil improver.

I can't get enough to cover the garden but sufficient to use it as a mulch in pots, it dries out and rots down very quickly and doesn't smell when used raw.

I made liquid feed from seaweed this year and found it only smells when used in liquid form, in the bin, when the lid was lifted, the smell was enough to make your eyes water but toms and spuds love it and bottled up it keeps for several weeks.

I rinse the seaweed in water first because of salt content but read somewhere there is so little salt on seaweed it doesn't really matter whether it's rinsed or not.

It's also good as a spray to deter some pests like slugs and snails but you need to start spraying early - March time. It's wildlife friendly to, the birds don't seem to mind the smell neither does the cat, which only lasts for a few hours after spraying .. if you have ever lived by the sea it's not unpleasant but land locked gardeners might not like it.

Hi, franco6832,

It would be nice to hear what you think about the advise given and whether it has been helpful.

Happy gardening

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