This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
H. L. P., Washington, D. C, says: - "I should like to hear through the Gardener's Monthly from Mr. Henderson, in regard to a difficulty I have found in his method of mulching with sphagnum and bone dust. I find that a white fungus appears about the roots. A florist of this city informs me he has observed the same. Is that owing to my bad management, or is it inherent in the system?"
Your correspondent, H. L. P., asks me why in his practice of "moss mulching" a fungus appears about the roots. We have now practiced moss mulching most extensively for over a year, and in no single instance have we seen any fungus on the roots of the plants that could be ascribed to moss mulching, and I am inclined to believe that it must be the result of some other cause. It is true that a few days after the mulching of moss and bone, is put on, probably for a week, a mould or fungus appears on the surface of the "mulch," but this is in no way injurious. When I wrote the article on moss mulching, which I sent to you last season, we had not then passed through the round of the year's experience, and we now find that its use promiscuously on plants is only safe from, say, March to October. We use it even in midwinter on gross feeding plants such as Callas, Dracaenas, Palms and plants of that character. But we found that plants that were in a partially dormant state and are grown at a low temperature, such as Azaleas and Camellias are better without it. I think in the summer months, on Azaleas particularly, is most beneficial and marked.
At the date we write (April 4) nearly every plant in our establishment, as soon as it is established in anything over a three inch pot, is submitted to the moss mulching process which we will continue throughout the entire season. So satisfactory were the results last year, I send you by this mail a specimen of a fuchsia and a rose on which is a layer of about half an inch of the "moss mulch," in which you will see how the roots are feeding, the mulch having been on about thirty days.
Mr. Henderson's paper on moss mulching, which appeared in our columns last year, is having republication all over the world. The idea of putting fertilizing material among mulching matter near the atmosphere and yet in the moist darkness which the feeding roots love, is probably the perfection of culture.