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Ten Commandments of Mulch
Question. I really enjoy your show andwanted to know if you could suggest a brand of mulch that's naturallyblack in color. The mulch I've purchased in the past starts out black,but turns brown.  Thanks,
            ---Kimberly inWilmington, Delaware.
 
Following your advice, I called a nursery about getting leaf compost touse instead of mulch. They couldn't understand why we wouldn't want touse mulch. They said compost would burn the trees because it was tooacidic. They also said if it's used in the right amount and isn'tmoist, wood mulch works perfectly and has never caused a problem. Isthis true? I would like to use compost, but I'm discouraged by what thenursery is saying.
             ---LisaIn Merchantville, NJ

Dear Mike: I'm seeing a lot of shredded, dyed rubber mulch made fromused car tires in home stores. My brother in Hollywood, FL, has startedusing it, but I don't even like calling it 'mulch'. I only use composton my garden beds, but my brother likes the quick fix and I'm worriedthat the rubber mulch will break down and release byproducts that couldcontaminate the shallow water tables in places like Florida.         
            ---Steve inMorrisville, PA

I am looking for the best way to remove shotgun fungus spores from mysiding. I read the articles from Ohio State University, but didn't seeany mention of removal strategies.  Thank you!
            ---Barbara inNorthern Michigan

Answer. Ah yes, 'tis the season ofMulching Mistakes. Tell you what—I'll answer all those questions andmany more, and sum up everything you need to know about this topic in aseries of tips and treatises we will call:

The Ten Commandments of Mulch

1.    The word "mulch" does not mean wood chips orshredded bark. "Mulch" isanything that covers the soil to retain moisture and prevent weeds.Nurseries would LIKE you to think that wood = mulch because they'reoften paid to take wood chips and shredded bark from tree cutterstrying to avoid high landfill costs. If they can then sell it to you asmulch, they get paid twice.

2.    There is no better mulch than compost.No, compost is not acidic and it doesn't harm plants (it's plantFOOD!). But nurseries have to actually buy compost, so some might tella little…eh, 'fib' to achieve that higher profit. Did I just say,"fib"? I'm sorry—that's not fair. I meant to say: "Liar, liar; pants on fire". Iapologize for the error. Anyway, in a groundbreaking study from Iowaand OhioState Universities two inches of compost prevented weeds just aswell as two inches of ground wood mulch. And the compost provided allthe food it's plants needed for the season, while the wood mulchactually increased the plants' need for food (see #9, below). You gonnabelieve some guy what wants to sell you wood to make a bigger profit?Or the published results of University researchers?  

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