Re: [tomato] Cedar mulch bad for tomato plants?

Richard Yarnell (
Sat, 23 Jun 2001 18:15:16 -0700 (PDT)

This question, and it's relative regarding the effect of woody mulch on
plants generally, has appeared recently on two lists.  I'll cross post to
the private list with a blind copy.

You'll recall that in mixing a good batch of material for your composter,
you include "brown" or carbonaceous material like chipped wood, bark, or
dry leaves, with "green" material in the form of weeds, lawn cuttings, and
the like.  As pointed out by others, the organisms which feed on the woody
component need a source of nitrogen to thrive - hence the mixture.
Compost is usable when most of this process has taken place so that the
compost doesn't require more than it has stored.

We deal with weed suppression with road fabric.  It is made to underlie the
gravel used on logging roads and parking lots.  If there is no slope, it
allows water to pass but is to finely woven to allow weeds to penetrate.
It is tough stuff and will last a long time.  To make it attractive in the
garden, we put down chippings we get from the trimming company which
services PGE, material we've chipped ourselves (and there was a time when
I chipped a lot of cedar hedge which we used as mulch.  I also threw in
scrap cedar lumber (WRC) which is slower to decompose, hence its value in
making our composters.  By keeping the mulch off the soil, all the
problems associated with it were avoided.  I put drip emitters under the
plastic at the base of each plant.

For those living in areas expecting drought conditions this summer, be
careful where you put your mulch: it will burn.  I've put out fires in
parking lot landscaping which featured bark and chipped wood mulch
(cigarettes, don't you know).  The mulch is a pretty good insulator and
can, if it is applied to heavily, provide the conditions for spontaneous
combustion.  Keep applications immediately around your homes and other
buildings, less than three inches deep.

Finally, since we have our own manure sources (rabbits, chickens, a mule,
and llamas) we plant with a mixture of compost and manure.  With the drip
irrigation, we generally don't have to apply any other fertilizer over the

On Sat, 23 Jun 2001, T Wallace wrote:

> What would you recommend to keep down the weeds around
> tomato plants?
> --- Terra Viva Organics <>
> wrote:
> > It should be okay as long as the cedar stays on top
> > of the soil and doesn't
> > get mixed in with it to start decomposing.  Also, if
> > you have lots of slugs
> > in your area, any type of mulch is a great hiding
> > place for them during the
> > hot days.
> > 
> > Arzeena
> > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> > Looking for ladybugs?
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> > your garden in June's Organic Living. Subscribe
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> >
> > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: T Wallace <>
> > To: <>
> > Sent: Saturday, June 23, 2001 12:43 PM
> > Subject: [tomato] Cedar mulch bad for tomato plants?
> > 
> > 
> > > Does anyone here know if cedar mulch is bad for
> > tomato plants?
> > >
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Richard Yarnell, SHAMBLES WORKSHOPS | No gimmick we try, no "scientific"
Beavercreek, OR. Makers of fine     | fix we attempt, will save our planet
Wooden Canoes, The Stack(R) urban   | until we reduce the population. Let's
composter, Raw Honey                | leave our kids a decent place to live.