Do I need mulch and compost?

Do I need mulch and compost?

Postby devoss28 » October 23rd, 2012, 7:02 pm

I want to start gardening, mostly herbs (tarragon, oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, cilantro, chives, dill, rosemary, and sage), some tomatoes, and raspberries. I don't know absolutely anything about gardening and am relying a ton on the internet. I just came from a gardening store with some cocopeat, because I was told it was good to use. Now I'm just wondering if I need mulch and compost and all that other stuff too. Can't I just grow it with cocopeat? I was also given some maxi liquid fish, bloom enhancer with the numbers 1-2-2, top max liquid fertilizer with the numbers 0.2-0-01, and bio-grow liquid fertilizer with the numbers 1-0-6. How do I use these and what do the numbers on those fertilizers mean? If anyone could help, that would be awesome. If you could describe things in an incredibly simple way (think kindergartner) that would be even better. Please bear with me, I'm new.
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Do I need mulch and compost?

Postby troy » October 23rd, 2012, 7:14 pm

The numbers stand for nutrients. The first number is nitrogen, the second phosphate and the third potash.

Different plants like/need different amounts of the nutrients, like peas don't need nitrogen at all but cabbage loves it.

Generally things whose leaves we eat like nitrogen, things that make fruit or pods like phosphate, and the vegetables whose root we eat likes potash.

I don't think I know much about the fertilizers you bought so not sure what to tell you other than fertilizers usually have directions on how to use.

I don't know if mulch and compost are needed, but they DEFINITELY are beneficial. They add nutrients to the soil, can help with weeds and help the soil retain moisture. Mulch can keep weeds seeds from germinating. You don't even need to buy it, you can use pulled weeds, leaves and grass clippings as mulch or compost.

kitchen scraps can also be used to make compost. Compost does not have to smell unbearably bad. I would not use ours as a perfume but it does not bother us. I pile leaves on top to smother the smell and take care of the knats/fruitflies it attracts. Used coffee grounds of all things is really good for compost. You can compost cardboard like toilet paper rolls.

Weeds are less of a chore if you pull them as they come instead of letting them get big.

Make sure the ground stays moist. Different plants have different water needs but as far as I know they pretty much all like the ground to stay moist.

Hope that was helpful, I tried to be simple.
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Do I need mulch and compost?

Postby macgowan57 » October 23rd, 2012, 7:18 pm

Compost is nutrient rich and you mix in your soil

Mulch (could be bark, wood shavings, straw, grass clippings) you lay on top of the soil around your plant to retain water and protect the roots.
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Do I need mulch and compost?

Postby bek » October 23rd, 2012, 7:30 pm

Herbs are wonderful plants. They don't like rich soil, so you can grow them in any soil you have, assuming you have normal soil. (Some can tolerate good soil, just don't keep supplementing the soil over the years and it becomes average soil.)

Tomatoes? All Dad ever used to supplement the soil for his tomatoes in the 15 years he grew them in the exact same ground was grass clippings over the winter. I've seen that yard since we moved out of that house, and the next owners didn't plant in that old tomato garden spot. The lawn, however was higher and richer there, so that grass clippings must have done the trick. (You should see how pretty the lawn was where my brother's old turtle pen was. Between years of turtle poop and then helping them hibernate by filling it up with leaves for the winter, that part of the lawn was even better. lol)

Raspberries? No idea. That old home had raspberry bushes when my family first moved in, but I was the reason they moved there - the third child on the way and they only had a two-bedroom apartment before I was born. BUT, lo and behold the same brother with the turtle pen (who is a year older than I am) ate a raspberry with a bee on it when he was two, and my parents decided berry bushes weren't safe around babies. I have no memory of the berry bushes, but I was told where they used to be. That lawn was no different from the rest, so, apparently, they didn't need a whole bunch of fertilizer.

So, basically, what you're really confused about is what kind of soil do you have now, right? Simple - if it's soil, it's already good enough for herbs.

Now, grab a handful of it and squeeze. (Not right after a rainy day.) What happened to the soil? Did it mold like a handful of clay? There's a reason for that. They call that clay. It needs some amending - dead leaves, brown grass clippings, mulch, compost, and, well, okay coco-peat. I'm not big on coco-peat. It has no nutritional value to add to the soil. Kind of like trying to live on rice cakes. You're eating something, but it's not doing anything for you, including filling your hungry. But, hey, all you're trying to do is stop the soil from binding so much together that roots can't dig into it, so that will work for now.

Did that handful of soil turn into dust and twigs? Didn't clump at all? That's got a name for it too. (Forget what it's called right now.) It means it doesn't have enough stuff to let water pass through it. Ever water a dusty dirt road and the water just sits on top without absorbing? That's the same idea. The particles are too fine to get water to penetrate. Soil needs substance. You can add compost to that (not mulch) or some old-fashioned top-soil to get it to the point where that dirt is supposed to be. (If you go with top-soil, mulch ever year to keep it top, top-soil.

So, where is that soil supposed to be? It should clump some in your hand, but it should fall apart on the sides, like a too-dry oatmeal cookie dough. That's good soil.

For this year, all you need to know is that (and do you get enough sun to grow everything you want, because they're all sun-loving plants, so need a good 6 hours or longer of full sun each day.) And, throughout the summer, Miracle-gro your tomatoes every other week. (I can't help you with raspberry bushes. Don't know how to grow them.) Do NO Miracle your herbs - remember, they don't like to be taken good care of. ;)

And the fertilizer you got? Rather a waste of money. Those numbers tell which percentage of the product holds the three most important parts to fertilizers. Look at your percentages. 1% by 2% by 2%. Gee, that makes it 95% of...what's in that stuff? Probably not hurtful to plants, but neither is rice cakes. It just isn't helpful either.

Now those numbers mean something specific. Ones for roots, ones for fruits, and ones for shoots, but it's 3 AM and my brain refuses to remember which ones which right now.

Not a problem. That's your job in the next year - to learn your fertilizers. I have a book (if I thought I could find it easily right now, I'd grab it and teach you the rest, but it's better if you buy it for yourself, so you'll remember or, at least, know were to look, when you forget), you should buy. I can't remember the order of the title, but it's something close to "Roots, Shoots, and Fruits." It teaches all you ever want to know about fertilizer, so, next summer, when your raspberry bush and new tomatoes need you the most, you'll know what they need - including compost, mulch, and fertilizer. (Notice, I have it, but I still use Miracle-Gro on my tomatoes. lol)

Hope I helped enough to get you started. Next time, learn before you buy, because people can talk you into buying a whole bunch of unneeded stuff, if you know nothing. (I did the same thing, so don't feel bad. lol)
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Do I need mulch and compost?

Postby auriel32 » October 23rd, 2012, 7:35 pm

Are you going to grow your plants in the ground or in pots?

Since you are growing in pots, it would be best to use a good potting soil instead of pure cocopeat, which will compress after repeated watering.
You can make your own using the cocopeat if you have to. A mix of 25 percent medium and fine grade sized perlite added to the cocopeat will improve it greatly. You do not need mulch, if you have some compost you can add that to the cocopeat-perlite mix up to 25 percent by volume.

The fertilizers you got are not that concentrated and you will need to use them repeatedly during the growing season. Compost does not add much nutrients ether.

Plants are easer to take care in larger pots than smaller ones, in a 4 or 5 gallon pot you can mix a number of your plant choices or grow a few plants of each kind.

Here are some sites that may be helpful:
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Re: Do I need mulch and compost?

Postby Rembi » August 29th, 2017, 9:23 pm

Mulching is really good for raspberry bushes, it lets you water less and keeps weeds down a lot.

Last bumped by Anonymous on August 29th, 2017, 9:23 pm.

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