How I wish I could broadcast this instead of writing so that it would be on-the-breaking-minute news. But even so it would still be too early to know what damage the past winter has done; that’s part of the excitement of gardening.
Some of the damage shows up now, more will be caused if we have very heavy late freezes and some wont show up until the hot, dry days of late June or July. That makes it difficult to diagnose winter damage.
Have you discovered the usefulness of sawdust? Although we long felt that it was too acid, if not completely injurious to plants, we now know that it is neither. For a mulch it is better to get the coarse sawdust from outdoor sawmills. The very fine sawdust that you get from the local lumber yard makes an excellent thatch roof that sheds water and consequently is-of no value for a mulch.
photo credit: tomsaint11
However, it can be mixed with the soil to replenish soil. Before the leaves come out this spring hunt through the neighboring countryside for sawdust piles even where the sawmill itself has long since moved on. If you don’t have a trailer, get it by the sackful. I keep eight to ten gunny sacks so I can replenish soil in preparation for Spring season. And on those trips when I expect to pick up sawdust I take down the back seat and throw an old sheet out to protect it. The wife hates it!
Although it is of course best to get permission to take the sawdust, I have never yet found an old pile that anybody thought worth saving. You can use this sawdust instead of peat for mixing with the soil; you can use it as a mulch, you can mix it with your compost pile to increase the quantity.
I have even used it along with hardwood shavings as a top dressing for paths through my wild garden. If the sawdust is pretty well weathered so that it is dark brown you don’t have to worry about any starving effect as the bacteria decompose it. But if its new and light colored, then it will be necessary to put on an extra amount of fertilizer containing nitrogen to feed the bacteria while decomposing the sawdust.
You get this nitrogen back after the material is decomposed and the bacteria have passed on. Yes, today sawdust is socially and horticulturally okay.