Cedar Mulch

Tue Jun 16, 2009 9:52 am

Hey there guys... Please file this in the category of "oddball questions"...

I am sharing a very small garden plot with a friend of mine, and she is doing the "organic thing" in this garden spot. (no pesticides or other non-organic fertilizer). We planted a small row of beans, tomato plants, peppers, cauliflower and some herbs. This plot is at her house in the city, and I get there at least one evening during the week and one on the weekend. In between times getting over to her place, she decided that she really wanted to try to retain moisture in the garden by mulching...so she spread cedar mulch all around the plants in the garden. My question is this, all of the plants are up and looked pretty healthy before the application of the cedar. Will this mulch hurt the plants or make unwanted changes to the soil where the plants are growing? It certainly seemed unorthodox to me when she put that down, but I don't know if it is a bad thing or not...

Thanks for your help!

Mike in La Crosse, WI

Re: Cedar Mulch

Tue Jun 16, 2009 10:37 am

I never tried it and don't know. My guess is it will probably push up soil acidity, which may be good or bad depending on the soil. Maybe some lime should be added with it.

Re: Cedar Mulch

Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:03 am


The answer to your question is - - it depends. I spent some time looking and this is what I found:

From Colorado:
Wood/bark chips are not recommended in vegetable or annual flowerbeds where
the soil is routinely cultivated to prepare a seedbed.

From Texas:
For an efficient way to water your vegetable garden, set up a drip irrigation system with a two inch layer of cedar mulch. This will minimize weeds and conserve moisture. The less water a vegetable plant gets on its leaves, the less susceptible it is to diseases, insects and spider mites.

From Virginia:
Bark and wood chips - A 2- to 3-inch layer of bark provides good weed control. Wood chips are slower to decay than shredded bark, and can be used as a pathway material in raised beds.

Good luck. Let us know how it turns out.


Re: Cedar Mulch

Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:26 am

Wood chips are not usually a good mulch for around vegetables. Wood decays at a slow rate and ties up nitrogen in the soil through the decay process. Wood chips are fine for pathways. I believe there is an issue with cedar, however I can't remember what it is. Grass clippings (if they don't contain seed heads) clean straw, shredded black and white newspapers and dried leaves are all much better mulches for your purpose.

Re: Cedar Mulch

Tue Jun 16, 2009 10:03 pm

I agree with the last post. However, I have a tomatoe book that talks about mulching using straw, manure, clippings from newspaper and of coarse leaves. It did warn not to use Red Oak leaves. There is some property of the leaves which is not good for the tomatoe plants. I think it is to acidic for the soil and would promote blossom end rot. Cedar chips sounds good for now but see if you can get a hold of some aged manure. Put about a 6-8 inch layer on the ground. That will feed the plants, keeps moisture in and also kills weeds under the cover. Then next year you will have great soil conditions for planting in again. We get the manure around here for FREE and the owner will even load it for us in our trailers. Oh, we do get horse manure but not GREEN manure- to hot! Has to be aged.


Re: Cedar Mulch

Tue Jun 16, 2009 10:14 pm

3" fine tilled dust mulch, and forget the hard to handle stuff------when you till DONT walk on the fresh tilled layer.---It will hold for a long time---both for moisture retention and weeds. ---During all my years of testing different stuff this is the only thing that I have found that works,---and it does work.---The best thing is good ole chems, but they meet objections, so go with dust mulch. thanks; sonny