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Mulch Problems

Q.Nutrient Effect Of Leaf Litter Mulching?

gpeppers added on July 30, 2020 | Answered

Because of all the reasons cited in your article/post about mulching with leaf litter, I chose this option over bare soil gardening. After about 10 years, i am noticing that my plants are not looking so good. Yellowing, stunted, whitefly and aphids… The systems presenting feedback would suggest nitrogen deficiency (?) Suggested by observers is that too many leaves are not a diverse enough nutrient source. The leaves are broken down into litter by our chickens. We compost food scraps and make nutrient rich soil with the chicken coop cleanings (straw and manure). Any ideas how to find out why our plants are unhappy? Some of our plants get adequate water, others get too much, and yet others don’t get enough. Our watering system is sadly lacking. However, the issues don’t seem to correlate. It seems like a nutrient thing, noticed globally around our place. The diseases might indicate a lack of phosphorous? We have added some rock phosphate and sea bird guano to address the pests. Adding some liquid nitrogen to address the yellowing. Looking for any additional input/feedback you might have. Thanks!

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on July 30, 2020

Many diseases to appear as nutrient deficiencies. 10 years is a very long time to not amend the soil with anything other than leaf litter, though. Fortunately, you can test your soil to find out, exactly, what it is lacking. These articles will help:



Addressing an infection is difficult without photos. Overwatering will, almost, always lead to some sort of infection at some time. The severity depends on which it is.

Sometimes, a general fungicide can help. These articles will help:



Alternatively, your local extension service may be of some assistance. This link will help you to find the closest to you:


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