There is a lot of advice to suggest that heaping relatively large amounts of compost around fruit tree trunks could cause the trees to die.
There is a reduction of oxygen diffusing through to lenticels and reaching respiring cells below bark in the trunk.
Now I went along with this until I though, hang on a minute. When I put woody cuttings into soil or compost, there is a similar reduction of the free flow of oxygen to growing cells in the woody stem of the cutting. Lenticels are covered in the same way. So how do cuttings survive this treatment?
|My rooted willow cuttings from stems just pushed into the soil. I put quite a bit of woody|
mulch on these too.
Layering woody shrubs would not work if this were correct and we would never get Irishmen's cuttings.
For an explanation to have credibility it must be consistent with all the data collected. Inconsistencies must lead you to question sloppy explanations.
So here is another piece of data that does not really fit in to the " not too much mulch" hypothesis. I tend to heap compost, manure and woody chippings around my soft fruit bushes. They do not die throwing out lots of adventitious roots into the compost. A little irritating because this means that the roots need to be covered again when the mulch decomposes and they are exposed.
|Blackcurrants and rhubarb with a thick woody shredding mulch.|
|Blackcurrants with a thick horse manure mulch.|
I think that much more tree and shrub death occurs from poor planting practices than the addition of too much mulch.
|Brussel sprouts with a thick woody mulch to stop them from falling over.|
Having said all that, I have found that it is unnecessary to add more than a couple of centimeters of woody shreddings to get all the benefits associated with mulching. Adding more does risk substantial nitrogen drawdown. This immobilisation of nutrient does have an affect if excessive woody shredding material is used for mulching.