Feedback from 2018

Not been a great year weather wise for any bagged product, but we sent some bags out to a number of professional gardeners earlier in the year to trial and have had some really helpful feedback from them, so thanks to all of you that took part.

One of my biggest conclusions coming out of it all was how much more we should make of BA’s moisture retention properties, certainly something that was helpful this year!

Feedback July 18:

Yes for me it’s too soon to say.

Good so far at moisture retention, around tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and climbing beans.

However we were picking French beans this morning and any lying in the mulch were more difficult to clean than if it had been compost. This would prevent me using it near salad plants we pick regularly.

In a ‘normal’ summer I expect it would break down more quickly but this year it’s sitting dry on top. I hope the weather will change by end August and I can give you more details in the autumn.

Congrats on those awards!
— Charles Dowding - @charlesdowding
So far, seems good. The brassicas are a bit slug-damaged - and a rogue cabbage white that slipped under the netting - but seem to be coping with the drought better than a lot of the rest of the veg. The pic shows just some of them. The sprouts further on in the bed are definitely growing strongly.

It has formed a good mat - not kept out all of the weeds but seems to have reduced the amount. Mind you, nothing stops horsetail!
— Mandy Bradshaw - @ChattyGardener
Overall a really good mulch and has shown some better growing conditions.

Not every plant has reacted with the mulch but the ones that have are clear(the photos attached). It also, like many mulches really suppresses the weeds and (if you water before mulching) has kept moisture in the ground, which has been very helpful recently!!
— Mark Bobin - @markyo
Like the overall feel, look, and smell of the product so far
— Thomas Stone MCI Hort MPGCA - @TshsHort
Like Thomas I haven’t used much yet (and would like to share in the proceeds of the collective rain dance, please…!)

However – I did mulch both greenhouses with it after planting my tomatoes & cucumbers and I have been really impressed so far. First impressions: a bit of an odd colour as it was rather on the yellowy-brown side (but this has weathered down as the season has gone on) and a slightly alarming smell of ammonia as it came out of the bag which did make me wonder if I was about to murder my plants! But my fears were completely unfounded and I now have some amazing growth, better than usual in my greenhouses although that might be partly because of the sunny weather I guess. Notable though is that I planted three cucumber plants, mulched two and then stuck one in the end and didn’t get around to mulching it – and it has noticeably not grown as well. I’ve now mulched that one as well and it’s catching up 😃

The bags are lighter to handle than usual mulches which is nice, too; generally, it’s been very pleasant to use and I would definitely recommend it.

I will report back again once I’ve had a chance to mulch a larger bed or three outside. I also passed on some bags to gardening friends (and plan to pass on a few more when I get the chance) and the feedback has been very positive – everyone in fact has come back for more!
— Sally Nex - @SallyNex

Feedback ll Oct 18

I am still uncertain of BA’s qualities, wish it was more compost-like (as some digestives I have seen) and less fibrous. This dry summer has not helped it to break down when used as mulch. Say after clearing French beans and I want to sow mustard, I need to rake it into the path. Can’t draw a drill as it’s packed into ‘pieces’ or wadges. Plus when picking beans some had bits of grass on, less easy to clean than compost.

Aesthetically I prefer the look of leaves framed by dark compost, rather than the light BA. Celeriac mulched with BA look a little smaller than no mulch, but I can’t give a result on that yet. Suspect best use is for dry climates.

Am interested to see how it decomposes over winter.

Glad that GLEE went well for you
— Charles Dowding - @charlesdowding
As for me, pretty much what Charles said re the appearance. However, it is good at suppressing weeds and the brassicas are looking really good - some of the best we’ve grown. Talking to my other half, we think it’s because it’s locked the moisture in on our very sandy soil.
— Mandy Bradshaw - @ChattyGardener
I’ve used it before planting my leeks back in July and they came on fantastically. Also spread it over beds where parsnip and spring onions hadn’t germinated since spring sowing. Within a week they both appeared! And I used it deeply and planted lettuce in which were good and didn’t run to seed.
— James Mclean -
I am now starting to do proper autumn mulching and finding BA very easy to use. The smell I noticed earlier in the year has settled down now, it’s light and easy to handle, generally v pleasant. I don’t share Charlie’s misgivings ‘re the colour, but aesthetics is perhaps not as important for me and besides, I have found it settles down over the year anyway and turns an ordinary brown. I am about to try planting autumn onion sets into it: I have found with other mulches that you either have to pull them back or create a channel filled with multipurpose compost in order to sow direct into them anyway, so I am not anticipating any different treatment with BA.

Thanks again for giving me the chance to try this out - it’s been a very happy experience for me so far!

PS pics show the condition of my soil just before mulching, then after mulching
— Sally Nex - @SallyNex
The pictures show a bed using BA over the whole area. The mulch has keep the weeds at bay since the application (apart from some hard-core ones).
It’s taking a long time to break down but I see this as a positive in this situation. Some mulches can disappear quite quickly.

Great for the dry period we had and the plants look healthy.
— Mark Bobin - @markyo