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Re: Cult: Borers and Mulch


I have been growing TB's for about three years and have planted all 
of my rhizomes in the spring, with a few small exceptions.  It sounds 
as though you and I have similar conditions.  I'm in USDA zone 6/7 
here in Rhode Island, surrounded by wetlands and salt water.  Our 
winters are very similar as well.  I have always used two different 
types of mulch, each with it's own purpose.  The first is the 
permanent,bark mulch which I put down each year in the spring after 
the bulbs and new shoots have begun to emerge.  The reason I put down 
new stuff each year is because the mulch I start with is well 
composted and ground to start with.  It's main purpose is to retain 
moisture during the summer months as well as shield the roots from 
direct sun.  It is also an excellent additive for the soil once 
decomposed.  If you are using larger chips which do not break down as 
readily, you may not need to repeat every year.  (By the way, that 
mulch is free at our town compost facilty and is made from yard 
waste, like ground trees, leaves and mixed with heavy doses of sewer 
sludge which has been composted for one year and tested by Health and 
Human Services before the public can use it).  The second type of 
mulch is leaves, specifically oak, which I put on after the first 
hard frost, usually at the end of October or begin. of Nov.  It 
serves to moderate temperatures throughout the colder months and 
protect plants from the thaws we inevitably have until December, and 
often throughout the winter.  Once the first spring bulbs have gotten 
to about 2" high, I rake all the leaves away and let the garden 
breathe.  Then I wait until the wettest part of the spring is gone to 
add more of the bark mulch.  I can't remember losing any irises, but 
then again, I don't have the years of experience of many of the other 
members.  Good luck.

Bill Wardwell

--- In iris-talk@y..., lmmunro@h... wrote:
> Now I don't know WHAT to DO..about the mulch I mean. I 
> thought 'cedar' because lots of insects do not like cedar, its a 
> natural repellant. So...maybe also the borers...
> Also, where I live I would like to give the iris a little more 
> protection. Its Northern NJ, zone 6 but really seems colder. I get 
> snow...sometimes..and its wet here too(in the winter, that is). 
> (Watershed area..lots of wetlands and lakes).
> Once Dec comes around, there is no more green foliage, and 
> here? No way in December.
> Last year was my first serious iris growing year. Some new rhizomes 
> died and they were alive before the winter...dead afterwards.With 
> protection.
> If you put the mulch AROUND the rhizome, what would you have? a 
> little rhizome lump encircled with mulch?? How is that helpful? 
> still exposed.
> I know people who mulch and people who don't around here. It 
> seem like a definite yes or no.
> It appears once an iris is anchored in well (like after a full year)
> it doesn't die because of the cold.
> Of course, last year I planted in mid september...maybe that 
> contributed to the iris loss?? (about 10% croaked)Not bad, but I 
> don't want any fatalities.
> Someone wrote a while ago and said she lost the majority of TB's 
> because of the cold winter someplace up north.That was pretty scary.
> If I do mulch, I'll remove the stuff before the spring rainy season.
> I think cedar chips are on the large and loose side, no??
> Not that red ugly stuff..but natural big-hunk stuff. That's what I 
> had in mind.
> Laetitia

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