Mulching, if done before the buds appear, is mostly done to prevent the bed drying out too rapidly in July and August. After the buds are taken and they begin to swell is the time they need mulching. That most thorough and excellent book, "Smith's Chrysanthemum Manual," by Elmer D. Smith, a little book that every one who grows a chrysanthemum should own, has very valuable information regarding mulching and liquid manure, and in the following remarks I have been much guided by his sound advice.
The first mulching in July may consist of old spent hotbed or very rotten horse manure. For commercial flowers that is usually enough till the buds are selected. Then apply pulverized cow or sheep manure. If the latter, it should be well ground up and mixed with an equal quantity of loam and used an inch thick. If cow manure it should also be dried and pulverized and used, without loam, an inch and a half thick. The greatest danger with a heavy mulch is you cannot see readily the condition of the bed and it must be carefully examined as to water. Great benefit as mulching is, careless watering or neglect of it may both do much harm.
The quantity of mulch should also be determined by the vigor of the plant. A variety like the yellow Lager is so vigorous and strong that any amount of stimulant would not seem to harm, while Maud Dean could be easily overdone. If you can afford the time a lighter and more frequent mulch is much better than one heavy dose.
Liquid manure is better withheld till the buds begin to swell and continued till the buds begin to expand. It is then dropped entirely. In addition to liquid made from horse, cow or sheep manure, chemical manures are used by experts, but you can get along without them. Lime is of benefit to the benches, but most soils have it in sufficient quantities. Where there is none in the soil a slight dusting of air-slaked lime is a benefit. It should be rubbed or lightly raked in and then watered. It is not easy to give quantities for these animal liquid manures. The color is the best guide. If, after it has settled in the tub or tank, the liquid is the color of weak tea, you will be safe, and begin with the liquid weak and increase a little in strength for two or three applications. Be ever on the safe side that you don't overdo the stimulant.