University of Maryland Extension: Garden Q & A
Q: Is it too late to mulch around shrubs and perennials? Does timing cause problems?
A: In fall, it is early mulching, not late, that can be a problem. Wait to apply fall mulch until after several killing frosts. Mulch applied too early may retain abnormal warmth in the soil. This can cause new growth to start, resulting in damage to the plant.
Keep mulch a few inches away from trunks to discourage voles from tunneling up to bark and gnawing on it over the winter.
Also, mulch piled on perennial crowns encourages rot, so go lightly there.
Q: I hear you can buy special worms that eat kitchen garbage year-round inside your home. It sounds weird but I'm curious. How do you get started?
A: Indoor composting with red wigglers, called vermicomposting, is becoming popular with the gardening public. These redworms (Eisenia foetida) are especially suited to the task because they live and reproduce in confinement and they can eat their weight in kitchen scraps each day. The end result is a rich, composted plant food.
All you need to get started is a plastic or wooden box with plenty of holes for air circulation, moist newspaper strips for bedding, 1-2 pounds of redworms and, of course, kitchen scraps, that is, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable cores and peels.
The worms can reside comfortably in a kitchen closet or basement and will not crawl out unless they are very unhappy (no food or too wet).
For information on suppliers of redworms and ready-made vermicomposting kits, read our fact sheet "Indoor Redworm Composting" on our website or call us.