When it comes to mulch, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. While you’ll want to re-mulch in autumn and offer your beds and trees a liberal layer of fresh mulch, you don’t really want more than 3 or 4 inches. As the layer of mulch gets too thick, it can make it difficult for the soil to breathe. So what do you do with leftover mulch after you’ve reached the recommended 3-inch deep layer? Ideally, you’ll store it over winter.
Keep the Mulch Dry
The challenge with storing high-quality organic matter is that your plants aren’t the only ones that love rich, biological food. Mould, mildew, and decay are going to try to break down the mulch, so it’s your job to make your mulch inhospitable over the winter.
Moulds need a few things to be happy: first they want a warm temperature. Storing your mulch outdoors over winter will help keep it too cold for mould. Moulds also need moisture, so plan to store your mulch in a shed or under a good-quality tarp to keep the rain and snow away. You’ll also want to lay a second tarp on the ground (or on the shed floor) beneath your mulch. This will prevent moisture from leaching up from beneath, make clean up easier, and make moving the mulch a bit more simple.
Don’t Worry About Mycelia
Don’t be too surprised if your sweet-smelling mulch seems to have grown some white fuzzies after several months of storage. Mycelia is a plant-friendly fungus that is invisibly at work in high-quality soils. Mycelia break down organic matter into smaller nutrients that plants can then easily absorb. Mycelia strands can look like short or long white hairs. It may not look pretty, but it’s super healthy for your plants. As long as the mulch doesn’t smell sour, you can blend your mycelia-covered mulch into the soil or use it around your beds and trees. If you don’t like the appearance, order a small amount of fresh mulch to go on top.
Let Your Mulch Breathe
Ventilation is just as important as keeping your mulch dry. Without enough air, mulch can go sour. Basically, when mulch doesn’t have enough oxygen, the organic molecules begin to break down and ferment. This causes the mulch to turn very alkaline and become toxic to your plants. You can identify sour mulch by its strong stench. Most folks describe the smell as somewhere between rotten eggs or vinegar.
To ensure your mulch can breathe, don’t stuff it in a plastic bag or bin for the winter months. The bulk mulch you get from Soil Kings should be spread out on a tarp to allow air to fully circulate through the pile. With enough air and protection from moisture, your mulch should smell fresh and sweet in spring. If you bought bagged mulch, you’ll need to take it out of the bag if you’re storing it over winter. Leftover mulch should only stay bagged for a couple of weeks.
So can you store mulch over winter? Yes! Just make sure you have enough room that you can spread the mulch out in an even layer, secure it against moisture, and allow it to breathe. In a shed or garage is ideal, since the mulch will naturally stay cool over the winter, which can help discourage mould growth. For more information or to place your order for mulch, visit us online! Order today, we’ll deliver tomorrow!