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Mulch for tomatoes and asparagus

WENDELL Asked

I recently cut down a large white oak tree in my yard and had the stump ground into saw dust. Have a huge pile of white oak saw dust to dispose of. Would this be good to mix into the soil of my tomato and or asparagus beds? Or use as a mulch?

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The Gardener’s Answer

Hi, Wendell: I am sorry for the delayed response! I found this question in my junk mail:( So, to (finally) answer your question, wood chips from a ground tree stump can be used as mulch or an amendment. As long as the tree was healthy, this it is a good solution. If the tree was removed because of disease issues, the chips should be discarded or composted for a least a year before incorporating them into the garden.

 

When used as mulch, be careful not to apply too much. A 2-3  inch layer is all you need to be effective. Any thicker and we are creating a nice environment for insects and disease to live. It is also important to keep the mulch off the lower parts of the plant. Avoid piling the mulch  up like a volcano around a tree trunk or any other plant material. The main purpose of using any mulch is to stabilize soil temperatures, keep the weeds down, and the moisture in. It is also helpful in preventing soil-born diseases from splashing up onto the foliage. Since your wood chips have been ground so fine, it might make more sense for you to use them as an amendment and incorporate them into the soil. This is most helpful in compacted, clay soil because it will break up the clay and allow for improved air/water movement within the soil. If used in this manner, the fungi and bacteria that work to decompose the wood, will eventually pull existing nitrogen from the soil to help in the process. Keep this in mind when it comes to fertilizing and add some extra nitrogen (N) to prevent a nitrogen deficiency.

 

I hope this is helpful. Garden therapy is more important than ever! Grateful we can still garden. 🙂

 

Angie Oakley

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