1 January 2008
On wintry, wet, frosty mornings I can feel the
cold seeping in through my clothes so on goes
Plants feel the cold too. More plants die from
winter chill than waterlogging.
are many trees, shrubs and perennials with roots
that stay close to the soil surface. When a
big old pine or beech tree blows over they leave
a ridiculously shallow hole in the ground. Most
of their roots are close to the surface. It
is the same with raspberries, philadelphus (mock
orange), syringa (lilac) and betula (birch)
All young plants and those recently transplanted
will benefit from a surface mulch to retain
heat in the soil and offer protection from frost.
Even a thin layer will prevent cold from entering
into the soil.
The lighter and more open your ground then the
deeper the frost can penetrate. If we do get
a series of hard frosts this winter then the
top 2-3 inches could become frozen solid.
the best mulch is a deep layer of old, well
rotted farmyard manure. It will not only keep
out the cold but will add humus and some nutrients
to the ground.
Home made compost does a good job but it takes
a lot for a large area. Bark mulch and wood
chip are excellent and when laid on a sheet
of landscape fabric will succeed in preventing
weed seeds and roots in the ground causing trouble.
There is a big selection of various sizes and
colours of gravel and they make attractive mulches.
A 2-3 inch deep layer will keep the roots cosy
slate acts in the same way but remember that
when it is frosted the surface becomes very
Where there are only a few plants to worry about
then layers of newspaper or circles of carpet
laid around each plant will offer protection.
Don’t apply the mulch when the soil is
already frosted as it will have the opposite
effect keeping the soil cold.
Plants in pots, especially those in metal containers,
will benefit from an outer wrapping of bubble
wrap or sacking tied around the container to
prevent the frost penetrating to the roots.
on good Mulching
to John's index page