Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Don't Rush to Put New Cocoa Mulch in Yard

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Don't Rush to Put New Cocoa Mulch in Yard

Article excerpt


I have been anxious to try the new cocoa mulch, made from cocoa bean shells. Can you imagine how great it would be to have your garden smell like chocolate? Is it OK to use it here?

Well, having the garden smell like chocolate seems like a great idea. But you might not want to go with cocoa mulch. A couple of years ago, when it was still new, a local landscaper told me it molds during our summer wetness and humidity. While all natural mulch is in a slow state of decomposition, returning organic material to the soil, the cocoa mulch gets moldy looking and smelling -- not a garden plus.

More importantly, the cocoa mulch has proven to be very hazardous to pets. Dogs and cats find the smell of chocolate as entrancing as humans do, and have been known to eat the mulch. This can lead to the same kinds of problems that chocolate causes in pets, including vomiting and potentially deadly heart arrhythmias. The mulch contains theobromine and caffeine, the substances in chocolate that can kill dogs. It is not a good choice where pets can get to it.

My pest control company wanted to apply a type of fertilizer last week, and I thought it might be a bad idea. Was I wrong to let them apply it?

Your pest control operator was applying a winterizer blend, which contains a little bit of very slow-release nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. With our cooler, drier temperatures, the nitrogen will be barely released. The potassium and phosphorus will be doing great things in the turf.

In the fall, turfgrass leaf blade growth slows dramatically. The plants move the starches and sugars the plant makes from sunshine down into the roots.

This glut of material triggers root growth, which the phosphorus aids. At the same time, the potassium works to increase disease resistance. When spring comes, the grass is well supplied to begin the spring growth cycle. …

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