September 12, 2011

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For years I have talked about hardwood mulch and it is still a good choice. I have always used and liked pine straw myself , I have 10 pine trees so I have always had access to it. I had no place for my customers to buy it. In the fall of 2009 when Marshall Grain ran it down for me and brought it in for my customers I finally had a place to send you. Now both Marshall Grain and Stegall’s Nursery & Plant Farm carry Pine Straw. I noticed at first that it was great for keeping out weeds and that was what I recommended it for and used it to keep service areas, pathways and sitting areas mulched so they wouldn’t be muddy and also to keep them weed free.

And I knew that pine straw would be good for beds with acid loving plants like Azaleas , Gardenia’s, Camellia’s and Japanese Maples.

Now after venturing out and trying it around natives and other shrubs I have realized that it is also great for any other kind of plants that we grow here. Since I have been able to have enough of the pine straw to test it in several yards besides mine. My customers and I have found several other reasons why it is such a good choice. Below is a list of all the things that I and several of my customers who helped me test have learned about Pine straw. Pine straw is an acid material and weed seeds do not germinate in it so you don’t need to add corn gluten meal to the top of it like you would to control broad leaf weeds on top of hardwood mulch. Pine Straw also controls grassy weeds (less work/less expense).

Pine straw is an acid material and weed seeds do not germinate in it so you don’t need to add corn gluten meal to the top of it like you would to control broad leaf weeds on top of hardwood mulch. Pine Straw also controls grassy weeds (less work/less expense).

While the pine straw itself is acid it is fine around our native plants that grow in the mostly alkaline soils that we tend to have. It does add some acidity to the area that it covers  but just enough to help in several ways. **It gives the plants a better green color on the leaf. **Roses and other high feeders really benefit from it in terms of bloom and help with heat stress. **It lasts a lot longer then any of the other mulches and stays in place best. **A bale of pine straw is lighter weight then a bag of any other kind of mulch so it is easier to haul and carry into the garden. I can get 10 bales in the back of my car
**Slugs and Snails don’t like it. Worms love it!! (I was hoping to test it’s effect on fire ants but it’s just been too dry.)

 This brutal summer of 2011 was harsh

I noticed differences on how well plants did on different properties, one of the big differences that I noted was that beds mulched with pine straw stood the heat better.  For years I‘ve been aware that the more acid soils of East Texas allow gardeners there to grow many plants in more sun then we can get by with here so I assume that this is the reason that the beds mulched with pine straw fared so well in the extreme heat. It could also be that water penetrates the pine straw better, not sure, but it made a good difference.

It may seem at first look that the pine straw bales cost much more then hardwood mulch, not true,  A bale of pine straw covers 24 square feet at my rate (please note that my rate covers less then the rate advertised on the bales. Use it at my rate for my results. One bale will go for about 8.99 in this area. It takes 3 bags of Hardwood Mulch to cover 24 square feet at the recommended 3 inches thick. These run about 2.99 a bag X 3= 8.97. Hardwood mulch is still a good choice and if you prefer it-it is fine to use.

Now that the heat has subsided it is time to cut back any damaged plants by 1/3 so they can grow new leaves in the milder weather. If you have already cut things back you will start to see new growth and repair. Plants could not recover in the continuing heat but it’s gone now and Fall is finally here. I really appreciate these garden centers going the extra mile and carrying this for my clients. Don’t wait too long! This fall shipment will only last so long, the bales will store.

Marshall Grain (both stores): Fort Worth 817-536-5636, 2224 East Lancaster Ave,  Grapevine 817-461-6600, off of Hall Johnson & 121.

Jim Stegall’s Nursery & Plant Farm 817-483-0682, 5652 Wilson Road- in south east Fort Worth.

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