Keith Kridler, Texas

Fw: Experimental mulch materials

February 8, 2009
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Categories: Growing Daffodils, Hybridizing, Seedling, Seeds, Soil

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—– Original Message —– From: “Keith Kridler” To: “Daffnet” Sent: Sunday, February 08, 2009 7:45 AM Subject: Experimental mulch materials
I spent most of this past fall installing a 21 foot wide by 61 foot long (7M X 20M) greenhouse for our master gardener group. I built the raised beds, started vegetable seeds and created a winter garden in the unheated greenhouse once I finished it in November. I finally got help from the group and had them plant an experimental mulch bed to show the differences in mulch types and colors.
In the photo it is a little hard to see but there are 6 different veggies planted in rows right down through the various types of mulch. We have black plastic mulch, clear 2 mil mulch, shiny aluminum Mylar Christmas wrapping, unused layers of newsprint paper and dark brown layers of Kraft paper.
Each are about 1 meter wide with about 2/3 of meter of plain soil between them. Air temperatures range from 20*F<100*F measured 1 meter off the floor in a shady area or -7*C<38*C. Soil temperatures vary 45*F<65*F or 7*C<18*C. The plant leaves will freeze solid about 3″ above the soil or 8CM but this has not really hurt any of the winter veggies since there is no wind blowing and their is high humidity.
The most interesting thing I have noticed is that there is really not much change in the plant growth from one type of mulch over the next. We/I really thought we would see some difference in the light reflecting off of the various materials and thus affecting the growth rates of the veggies.
The thin clear plastic mulch was the easiest to work with as we planted tiny two leafed seedlings I raised in flats. This was a shot taken last week and in one week the veggies in the greenhouse have exploded in growth as the Calcium Nitrate I hit them with three weeks ago is really kicking into the plants vascular system. I liquid fed the entire greenhouse with only three cups of Calcium Nitrate mixed with 80 gallons of water.
The Tatsoi is one of the Asian greens and there are a couple of other varieties on each side of the photo with some butter crunch lettuce where I replaced some of the Tatsoi.
We are test growing about 36 different varieties of winter veggies so far. As I water the greenhouse I can munch on all of the different plants and do my own taste test.
One of the problems with showing daffodils is that rain splashed up dirt and grit on the blooms sometimes staining them beyond being able to clean the stains especially if you use hard wood mulch. With the clear plastic mulch you would spread this over the daffodil beds and then cut through the plastic as you see the daffodil foliage breaking ground.
IF you planted your show daffodils in rows similar to the way we planted the veggies YOU MIGHT have small sections of the daffodils bloom a little earlier as the plastic creates a very small micro climate. It IS harder to water this vegetable bed as ALL of the water runs down through the holes where the plants are planted. It would have worked better to have installed drip irrigation under the mulch as they do in commercial strawberry operations.
Photos of Texas Daffodils in bloom later tonight. Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas

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