Shredded leaves as mulch contains pine needles

Asked March 23, 2017, 10:18 PM EDT

Hello, I have a lot of shredded leaves from this last fall that I wanted to use as mulch for my vegetable garden. There are a lot of pine needles intermixed in the pile. Would I be able to use this leaf + pine needle combo as mulch or will the pine needles be bad (making the soil acid). Also, there are some grass clippings also mixed in. Will this increase the chance for weeds (if a weed seed somehow found its way in the leaf pile, which I then put as mulch). Also, is there a general rule in terms of when to apply leaf mulch? If I direct sow outdoors, should I wait until something shoots up and then mulch around it? If I transplant say tomatoes or blueberry bushes, do I add mulch immediately as well. Is there a time I shouldn't add mulch. Or a plant that shouldn't get mulch (if I'm growing lettuce, strawberries, asparagus, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers). Thank you for your help!!!!

Howard County Maryland

1 Response

The pine needles mixed in with your shredded leaves are not a problem.
The grass clippings are o.k. too as long as there are no herbicidal residues on them.
Weeds come, and can blow in, or be 'banked' in the soil, always waiting for their chance to germinate, but we wouldn't be too concerned.
As far as when to apply... shredded leaf mulch can be a great organic amendment to your soil and can be turned right in if you have a lot.
For application as a mulch, you can put it around transplant immediately, but if sowing seeds, pull it back in that area or wait until they are up and growing well.
Letting the ground warm some before putting on a mulch is not a bad idea.
All of the plants you mention can benefit from mulch.
Keep it pullled back from plant stalks, crowns or bark of all plants, to allow for air flow and drying out properly to reduce the risk of disease or pest problems.