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MattyB

Eucalyptus mulch

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MattyB

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I really like this free stuff that a local tree trimmer brings me for free.  It's ran through the shredder but still has lots of branches and stuff in it.  Not the most decorative mulch but it's superior for use on a steep hillside.  It resists sliding down the hill very well.

I've heard tales of Eucalyptus as being a growth inhibitor, etc....also some say it's no prob....Any first hand experience ya'll can share?

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deezpalms

Remove it all before the oils in the Euc's kill your palms!!!  :angry:  :angry:  :angry:

Ha ha haaaaaaa! Jus kiddin' ya! I've got no idea if it's good or bad  :P

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Tad

I know I always take care to properly fertilize all my palms as non composted mulch tends to pull nitrogen lock.

not sure if the euc has that effect or not,

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MattyB

Yeah, they'll be fertilized.  Most areas will have well rotted compost layed down under the mulch also.

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BS Man about Palms

Matt- If you remember the monster euc that was next to my driveway, I've been taking the bark and breaking it into mulch sized pieces to put in fresh plantings or boxes, so far everything looks very happy, its been on several areas for 3-4 months or more.

Also, from what I understand you can use most anything for mulch as long as its on top of the soil.  Its once its mixed in the soil that the "nitrogen robbing" occurs.

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_Keith

One of the local horticultural celebrities preaches ground hardwood mulch from local trees (the entire tree) being the best.  Of the specialist mulches the only one he recommends as a close second is Euc.

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Tad

(BS, Man about Palms @ Dec. 24 2007,16:49)

QUOTE
Matt- If you remember the monster euc that was next to my driveway, I've been taking the bark and breaking it into mulch sized pieces to put in fresh plantings or boxes, so far everything looks very happy, its been on several areas for 3-4 months or more.

Also, from what I understand you can use most anything for mulch as long as its on top of the soil.  Its once its mixed in the soil that the "nitrogen robbing" occurs.

Good to know!!

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Daryl

As long as the mulch is not 'fresh' it is fine. Just make sure it is semi-composted to remove the oils etc prior to applying it. A lot of people use it here with good results.

Also, different species have different properties, some are worse than others. There has been  much debate about this here, and from my own experience, it can be detrimental to your soil and plants if not allowed to cool off for a couple of months first.

Daryl

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Tassie_Troy1971

I know one thing Matty it catches on fire really easy mate especially in dry areas take care !

ive never heard of any problems with its use down here .

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Jeff Searle

I think you'll be fine. I have never heard any bad things or results from using it. I also get truck loads of free mulch( not euc.) for my yard. I'm on two acres and it would cost me a fortune if I had to buy bag mulch. They know to bring good clean loads, meaning no palm leaves( go figure) because the grinder can't chip up a palm leaf usually. It just shreads them into stringy pieces.

Jeff

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Tyrone

I only use Eucalyptus mulch ( cos that's all you can get over here) that's been well decomposed and mixed with peat. I just did a top-up of Karri and Peat this weekend and it's awesome stuff. If you do it for a few years you'll end up with an 40cm deep layer of fine black humus and the palm roots just love running around in it. I can only imagine detrimental results if you chip up a green Euc and just put it straight onto your soil. Then the bacteria that try to break it down will chew up your Nitrogen to decompose it.

regards

Tyrone

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ariscott

We used fresh eucalyptus mulch straight from the tree loppers with no problem - but things break down very quickly here. If I have to buy decomposted stuff, it would send me broke!! The tree loppers sold it to me less than half price and if he hasn't got any... I just buy mulch hay - which is cheaper again, but unfortunately it breaks down too quickly.

Regards, Ari :)

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LJG

Matt, you are like the palm version of MacGyver in your yard.

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MattyB

Thanks Len.  That's true.  I get it from my Dad.  He's always figuring out how to come up with ways to solve problems.  Usually on the cheap.

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Tyrone

(ariscott @ Dec. 24 2007,20:39)

QUOTE
We used fresh eucalyptus mulch straight from the tree loppers with no problem - but things break down very quickly here. If I have to buy decomposted stuff, it would send me broke!! The tree loppers sold it to me less than half price and if he hasn't got any... I just buy mulch hay - which is cheaper again, but unfortunately it breaks down too quickly.

Regards, Ari :)

Ari, If you use fresh mulch you could mix in or combine it a bit with some sort of nitrogen rich stuff so that your soil doesn't get Nitrogen draw down. I use sheep manure or even horse manure from the local racetrack which they give away free. Another alternative is to use dynamic lifter or even some sort of NPK chemical fertiliser. This way the bacteria get fed and don't start stripping the Nitrogen out of your soil to break the mulch down.

Just a thought.

Best regards

Tyrone

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Mindaries_Perth

Tyrone, I live in Perth too and like you I use Karri & peat and its pretty good stuff.

Just wondering about the fallen dry gum leaves from these trees. I'm not sure whether or not to use them directly as mulch. I keep hearing stories that oils from these leaves can be bad for other plants. At the moment I store them away as part of dry section for composting.

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Tyrone

Hey, great to see someone else from over here on the forum. Welcome.

I've never had a problem with gumleaves. I generally leave them where they are if it's in the garden beds. I don't know if I'd use them as a mulch with nothing else though. In nature there would not only be fallen leaves but sticks and bark of all various sizes so 10cm of solid leaves probably wouldn't be good.

You are in Mindaries I take it. Great coastal marine influence there. What are you growing?

regards

Tyrone

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Mindaries_Perth

(Tyrone @ Dec. 26 2007,22:35)

QUOTE
Hey, great to see someone else from over here on the forum. Welcome.

I've never had a problem with gumleaves. I generally leave them where they are if it's in the garden beds. I don't know if I'd use them as a mulch with nothing else though. In nature there would not only be fallen leaves but sticks and bark of all various sizes so 10cm of solid leaves probably wouldn't be good.

You are in Mindaries I take it. Great coastal marine influence there. What are you growing?

regards

Tyrone

Hi Tyrone. Yes its not too bad up here in Mindaries. We're about 2kms out from the beach and on top of a hill and yes very windy indeed.

Our house is situated north facing and the brunt of the winds come from the oceans SW winds. Our backyard neighbour has this big old gum tree and when the wind blows alot of the leaves dropped to our garden....grrr hence my question. Sometimes I would collect the leaves in one big pile and mow them down with the mower. At least they will break down in the compost quicker this way.

We've a dug up a terrace up the back as it was built on a slope and we built two section of palm groves in between the gazebo. We carted away about 30 cubic meters of beach sand and limestone rubble that day. Seven years later we finally came up with our tropical getaway. We have growing here in Mindaries; Kentias, Spindles, Bottles, Triangles, Bismarkia, Butias, Hurricanes and Golden Canes. Understorey guys inludes mostly of the Cascades, Metallicas and other Chams.

Must say that the Hurricanes are doing well in between all the other palms. I can see how they came up with the name of this palm.

Regards

Rahaidi

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Tyrone

Sounds awesome Rahaidi. You'll have to take some pics of it all and post them in a new topic. I'd be interested in seeing it all. The Hurricanes do well here. I have a few.

regards

Tyrone

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ariscott

(Tyrone @ Dec. 25 2007,20:21)

QUOTE
We used fresh Ari, If you use fresh mulch you could mix in or combine it a bit with some sort of nitrogen rich stuff so that your soil doesn't get Nitrogen draw down. I use sheep manure or even horse manure from the local racetrack which they give away free. Another alternative is to use dynamic lifter or even some sort of NPK chemical fertiliser. This way the bacteria get fed and don't start stripping the Nitrogen out of your soil to break the mulch down.

Just a thought.

Best regards

Tyrone

Tyrone,

I usually fertilise before the wet - and that is when I usually mulch very heavily. To control the weeds, more than to keep moist. Without mulch, after the wet season, the weeds will get out of hand. And then, I will mulch again just after the wet. Mulch don't last very long here... If I am lucky to get the eucalyptus mulch, they last 6 months (if I put it very thick), but with mulch hay... 3 months maybe.

I have mound of composted horse manure that I will put around the plants soon. So, don't worry... my palms or plants in general are well taken care of. Thanks for the suggestion though.

Regards, Ari :)

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Tyrone

Sorry Ari, I didn't mean to tell you what to do. I just thought if you use fresh Eucalyptus mulch, fertiliser of some sort is necessary, and as you explained you already do that. So I think you've got a good little setup happening there. :)

I know what you mean about the weeds. My garden for the first couple of yrs during the warm season went crazy with weeds. I was filling trailer loads full of weeds every couple of months. Then the canopy got started and with the mulch I very rarely weed at all now. It takes care of itself.

Best regards

Tyrone

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Phil

Matt,

I've never heard of any soil preparing company using Eucaplyptus materials in any of their soils.  As bark/cuttings/mulch are so available and cheap from Eucalyptus, one would think they'd use this material if it were a good thing.  I have certainly heard that Eucalyptus oil can discourage growth of plants.  It's sort of reminiscent of the wives tale that "nothing grows below a pepper tree".  Could this to some extent apply to Eucs?   I have big Eucs in my garden area and have always raked up the leaves/debri and sent them off to the dump.  But, here's my point:  The one thing you don't screw up on is your soil.  Sure, free mulch is great.  But how much would it cost to rectify the problem or replace "bad soil" if that proved to be the case?   How would you reverse any problem if it occured?  Is this a case of penny wise, pound foulish?  I can't say for sure, but why take a chance?  You can obtain stable litter for free and I guarantee you that it is far superior to Euc droppings.  You've heard my story about the rich man who "saved" a lot of money by trucking in 100 yards of yellow fill dirt for his garden because it was such a good deal.  Not!!! If it's all about the palms and growth, don't roll the dice.

Phil

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Phil

Matty B.

Since my last post was so cautious, I decided to do a little Net search for more information.  I did find articles discouraging its usage.  But, there were other articles saying that plants grown in Euc mulch as part of the mix seemed to grow ok.  It was hard to decipher between those that were promoting it from a commercial basis and those that were truly scientific.  It seems that in Australia, Eucalyptus mulch is a byproduct for which people are trying to find a usage.  Sites also pushed it in Florida.  One of the claims was that it would save other more threated species used for mulch whereas Eucalyptus is plentiful and of little value in the lumber market.  I found that there's lots of information on the toxicity of Eucalyptus oil to animals, but little reference to plants.  Other articles stated that it is important to age Eucalyptus if you use it and to make sure you add nitrogen; one article said to add blood and bone.  

So, there you go.  I haven't changed my mind and still would go with the tried and true.  But, maybe there's more scare than reality with the risk.

Phil

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Tyrone

Phil, Us aussies have been using it for yrs and I grow palms well under my Eucs. If you go into native palm forests there are Eucs everywhere where Livistona and Archontophoenix grow. There is not such a big issue with it over here because there isn't much wrong with it. I really don't know what the issue is. I think that there is a lot of hype set up against it. As far as lumber is concerned, a lot of Euc's are the best lumber in the world, the centre of large timber industries here in Oz. Good Karri and Jarrah is very expensive and hard to find.

Personally I wouldn't mulch any tree fresh and neat into my garden without adding Nitrogen. It isn't good horticultural practice anyway.

best regards

Tyrone

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Daryl

On a similar note, I have a large Corymbia (ex eucalyptus) maculata that grows in my garden, and sheds its leaves and bark everywhere (typical messy eucalyptus). A lot of the litter fell in my pond, so I decided to clean it out one day. I just used a bucket to empty it and then clear out the plant matter. anyway, I poured the water out all over one of my palm beds as we are on severe water restrictions and you have to use what you can get...

That was about 12 months ago, and the palms in  that area almost all died. This included common stuff like Archontophoenix cunninghamiana, as well as a nice Carpoxylon that was about 8 ft tall. Well, the palms are still alive, but only just, and the only thing I can attribute their lack of health to is the pond water. They got sick almost immediately, and have been sickly ever since. They just refuse to grow, regardless of the care I give them.

Daryl

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Phil

Daryl and Matt,

I talked to my son, Jesse, at the Nursery yesterday about this topic.  He's in college and in a horticultural class they discussed this exact topic.  The professor (and Jesse's text on the subject) dinged Eucaplyptus saying it did possess certain growth inhibitors and that other mulches were better.  I'll forward more info as I get it.

Phil

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George Sparkman

I agree with Phil/Jesse.

I do not know if it is a growth inhibitor or just plain old contamination from the oils in euc,

but I do know that other plants will not grow properly among euc or where euc used to grow.

I grow euc commercially for foliage and if you want to grow something other than euc in it's place

you have to till the soil very deep to get rid of the ill effects of the euc.I have always looked at it

as glue in the soil that does not let other plants breathe properly.That being said I do not know if

that would leach into the soil from mulch.But I would not use pure euc mulch.A blend with some euc is probably fine.

Happy New Year,

George

Cycads-n-Palms.com

Fallbrook,CA

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ariscott

I guess it all depends where you are... if you can see the growth I have in my garden at the moment, a bit of growth inhibitor would not change a thing. Plants have powered on since we got constant rain. Unfortunately, we don't have many choices of mulch here in Darwin, either eucalyptus mulch or mulch hay. Mulch hay breaks down in 3 months, so I have to do it 4 times a year, and with 5 acres.... it will break my back.

Regards, Ari :)

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gcyao

Daryl,

I was told that leaves rotting in water encourages water molds to grow and using that directly to water your plants will infect them immediately. Try a suitable fungicide to eradicate the molds.

George Yao

Metro-Manila

Philippines

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sonoranfans

here is an abstract where the inhibition effects of ecalyptus oils were studied(and verified).

http://www.springerlink.com/content/gt67643743300373/

Unfortunately the full paper is not free.  the main inhibition ingredients appear to be limonene and cirolene.

Here is a patent on the use of limonenes and other terpene family compounds as active ingredients in herbicides.

http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5998335-description.html

I suspect aging will break down these herbicides, hence the effective use of ecalyptus mulch by some growers.  It does not appear that nitrogen fixing is the problem with eucalyptus mulch, the oils apparently have natural herbicides.  These herbicides may have been effectively extracted into Daryls pond water(limonene is water soluble), leading to a pond containing the natural herbicides at a fairly high concentration.  I would not use fresh eucalyptus mulch on my palms.

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garrin

When Hawaii island's sugar industry folded some years ago a lot of cane land was converted to eucalyptus forests for periodic harvesting for wood chips for building or pulping for paper.  There was quite an outcry locally about nothing would grow there again because of the eucalyptus toxicity.  I have seen this happen in other places outside Hawaii,  but to everyone's pleasant surprise the long gone native hawaiian forest understory plants began re-establishing themselves in the shade of the eucs where they had not grown in probably over a hundred years.  Even some rare endangered native species began to come back in the shade of the eucs.  I don't remember any more of the details as this was in a newspaper or magazine article a couple of years ago.  First hand observations of the eucalyptus groves show a very lush and beautiful understory growth.

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sonoranfans

(garrin @ Jan. 03 2008,17:59)

QUOTE
When Hawaii island's sugar industry folded some years ago a lot of cane land was converted to eucalyptus forests for periodic harvesting for wood chips for building or pulping for paper.  There was quite an outcry locally about nothing would grow there again because of the eucalyptus toxicity.  I have seen this happen in other places outside Hawaii,  but to everyone's pleasant surprise the long gone native hawaiian forest understory plants began re-establishing themselves in the shade of the eucs where they had not grown in probably over a hundred years.  Even some rare endangered native species began to come back in the shade of the eucs.  I don't remember any more of the details as this was in a newspaper or magazine article a couple of years ago.  First hand observations of the eucalyptus groves show a very lush and beautiful understory growth.

I am going to plant some eucalyptus microtheca as overhead canopy in my yard.  I dont expect that the tree will release much oil into the soil.  Fresh mulch will release all its oil into the soil as it degrades.  But perhaps the worst scenario is leaves in the stagnant pond, a natural extraction and concentration process.  I cant imagine fresh mulch would be worse than that, as the oil would at least be timed release.

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ariscott

That is all we have been using for years in Darwin and the palms here are huge!!! Eucalyptus are natives and some people who has rural property have been planting under eucalyptus and have good results. That is all I have been saying. I guess it is up to you guys to make up your own mind. I definitely never had any problem. I have been using it for a year here in Darwin and 2 years in Gove. I planted all sorts, from trees, palms, heliconias, gingers and other tropicals.

Regards, Ari :)

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Tyrone

I think the problem is if you put nothing but Euc leaves down as a 15cm thick mulch you may have oil probs, depending on the species of Euc possibly. But if you're a messy gardener like me, and let things fall pretty much as they would in nature, sticks, leaves and limbs of varying thicknesses with air pockets around it all etc, there is little harm done. This messy approach lets all the bugs and fungi get into it all and have many parties together turning the lower layers into black humus. I've planted many things into this black humus and the plants go wild. My Pinanga coronata's and my Hydriastele wendlandiana were planted almost totally into the black humus I dug from under my gum tree, and they're going mental.

regards

Tyrone

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ariscott

(Tyrone @ Jan. 03 2008,22:10)

QUOTE
But if you're a messy gardener like me, and let things fall pretty much as they would in nature, sticks, leaves and limbs of varying thicknesses with air pockets around it all etc, there is little harm done.

Is there any other method of gardening??? Mine would never be perfect :) :).

Regards, Ari :)

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Tyrone

(gcyao @ Jan. 03 2008,12:49)

QUOTE
Daryl,

I was told that leaves rotting in water encourages water molds to grow and using that directly to water your plants will infect them immediately. Try a suitable fungicide to eradicate the molds.

George Yao

Metro-Manila

Philippines

I was thinking that there is the possibility of anaerobic bacteria growing in the sludge at the bottom of a pond. What comes up from the depths can be most disgusting. I once had to get right into one of my ponds to bucket all the sludge out. Poooohhh. The stench. Anyway I came up in quite a rash and felt real ill afterwards. Whether that would do anything to plants is another thing. My pond had heaps of gumleaves fall into it amongst other things.

regards

Tyrone

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Tyrone

(ariscott @ Jan. 03 2008,22:14)

QUOTE

(Tyrone @ Jan. 03 2008,22:10)

QUOTE
But if you're a messy gardener like me, and let things fall pretty much as they would in nature, sticks, leaves and limbs of varying thicknesses with air pockets around it all etc, there is little harm done.

Is there any other method of gardening??? Mine would never be perfect :) :).

Regards, Ari :)

No there isn't Ari. :) Clean manicured gardens are for people who plant topiaries everywhere and get up at 6am with a pair of scissors to make sure no leaves are out of place.

My garden is far from perfect, but the palms don't know. :)

Best regards

Tyrone

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Tad

I will risk getting trounced for a stupid post, wont be the first or last, do different euc's have different amounts of oil, by variety?

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Daryl

Hi Tad, yes they certainly do. Certain species are selected for commercial production of oil due to the oil percentage in the leaves. Also, I think most of the oil is in the leaves, not the wood. Aside from just being toxic, they are very selfish plants and tend to suck all of the soil moisture and nutrients, leaving other plants to struggle to compete. A lot of the native vegetation in my area was cleared 100+ years ago for various ag/hort enterprises, and then let go. The regrowth is mainly eucalyptus due to the tree's ability to regenerate so quickly, drought and fire resistance and dominance over other vegetation.

Some species of eucalypt do co-exist very well with other trees and plants, but many don't and I see a lot of areas where the native bush is almost a single species.

Daryl

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