UKTC Archive

Re: Mulch, Fuel, Firewood; whatever?

Subject: Re: Mulch, Fuel, Firewood; whatever?
From: AJH
Date: Jul 22 2001 21:48:11
On Sun, 22 Jul 2001 05:27:26 EDT, you wrote:

In a message dated 21/07/01 10:49:14 GMT Daylight Time, 
andrew.heggie@xxxx.ntl.com writes:


As the landscaping community comes to realise the
attractiveness of unnatural additional woody (including peat) soil
ameliorants to pathogens this may change.

(Thought I'd better change the header here.)
Thanks for your detailed reply there Andrew; is that accurate about 
pathogens? 

It is my opinion, I do expect to see a paper published, which may well
sway others, in the near future. At the moment I cannot attribute
anything for confidentiality reasons, just watch the RHS publications
list. Whether it is real or not is a side issue, in my industry we saw
a crash in the value of spruce sawlogs for the fencing market
following a report published by the fencing trade association. Mulch
is used as a weed suppressant,for moisture retention and to "darken"
soil on developments, I think it is poor for the first, outperformed
by modern artificial treatments for the second and a fraud for the
third. However it is at present a valid low cost disposal route for
arboricultural arisings. From my postings many of you will know I have
a vested interest in biomass heating ;-).

In fact to follow your thread about dying Beech, the fields around our yard 
have several dying Beech, we put this down to drought over the early 90's 
and 
the farmer doing his best to plough all the roots off. 

My observations seem to be trees that previously had flushed OK with
full crowns, just up and turned brown. I have seen beech recover in
the past after hot weather.
Just because it was 
there we tipped a load of woodchips around the base of one of em that had 
had 
ploughing down one side and was grass down the other. When I say a load it 
was 10 metres or so and we had a chipper demonstrated on a shed branch so 
the 
long and short of this was that the tree had a 2 foot mulch around it. The 
decline appears to have stopped, the foliage appears more lush and the crown 
more dense.

If the material is highly putrescible then the BOD can kill roots,
woody chips in the absence of foliage probably rot slowly as their C:N
ratio is too high, hence they have a low BOD.

The dead twigs sticking out the top are still there but the tree 
doesn't appear to be declining any more. 
Isn,t this a normal response to root damage, the crown shrinks to
reduce overhead to the point where the remaining root system can cope
and then carries on as before?

The chips at the base have been dug 
up by some fishermen (looking for worms I guess) and you can see that white 
mycelium(?) growing through the chips. No sign of anything detrimental. 

Confusing me with your technical terms, from O level biology isn't
mycelium just a collection of hyphae? Don't the more pathogenic forms
of Armillaria (sp?)  lack the protective sheaves
(bootlaces/rhizomorphs (sp?)) and become more dependant on spores for
dispersal?


Not very scientific I know. Perhaps the grass snakes eat a lot of insect 
pests? What do they live on? Don't theories about latent decay fungi suggest 
that the beneficial mycorrhiza are probably just waiting for a pile of 
woodchips to set them off?

Pass on that, however composting vegetation is a good habitat for most
snakes and lizards (including slow worms).

Questions questions and no answers.

That's what the internet's for, have I expounded my theory about loss
of stag beetles and stump gobbling?


PPS, don't pick the grass snakes up, they stink like skunks when they're 
frightened!
Slow worms eject their tails don't they? Wildlife is best just
observed rather than played with IMO.
AJH
 

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