Wear a mask when dealing with mulch. Aspergilus (Farmers Lung) and Rhizerpus (Tree Loppers Lung) are real threats to our health.
Use of organic fertilisers and mulches I was recently reading Grant Thorp and Rod Bieleski’s book on Feijoas which I purchased in NZ a few years ago and there is a very interesting bit of information there. “It is important to be careful when using organic mulches as the microbial activity they encourage can lock up nutrients needed by the plant. This is particularly so if the mulch contains a high proportion of cellulose to the critical nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus, as with sawdust and bark. Two things can be done to help the situation. Firstly, most bark suppliers will sell bark that has been pre-treated with nitrogen to compensate for its shortage in the original material. Secondly and alternatively, when spreading untreated mulch, you can top dress with fertiliser at the same time even if the trees have already received their normal requirements.” Ref: Sheryl Backhouse. I rang Bassetts, the bark people, and they do not pre-treat with nitrogen.
Coconut fibre is prime mulching material, even better than peat moss. The only major drawback is the high sodium content so you will have to soak it in epsom salts and then rinse off. Treated this way, the sodium ions are displaced by magnesium and would be more beneficial to the plants rather than toxic. Ref: Joe Real
The best mulch comes from black wattle – just shred it up. I had a Bauple Nut that hadn’t put 2 leaves on in 2 years and I put a bag of black wattle shreddings, never watered it and came back a fortnight later and it had put shoots out. I also use this now on my strawberries. It lets water through and keeps the weeds down and eventually feeds the plant. I’ve now run out of black wattle! Don’t chop it coming into winter or it will die. Birds also seem to like the Black Wattle to sit in. I used cane mulch a while back and we had 1½ inches of rain and it was bone dry underneath. I think you have to let it break down a bit before putting it on as it seems to repel water. When I water, I put the nozzle under the mulch. Because I’m in a frosty area, I wrapped the trunk of my chempadek to 600cm to stop the frost from getting at it and the tree grew 600cm in winter!