How To Mulch Your Garden
Adding mulch to your garden beds is an effective way to conserve water, reduce weeding and enhance your garden’s fertility.
Some people use decorative mulch such as stone or wood chips for the decorative effect. This method can also conserve water and suppress weds but will have less of an impact on the soil’s health.
I prefer thinking of mulching being similar to composting only I am more selective in what I use for mulch, no carrots tops or apple peels, for example.
You add a layer of organic material, the leaves from your trees, for example to the garden bed and this then mimics what happens on the forest floor where leaves and needles drop to the ground, where they break down over time and then absorbed as food. This method is a cold composting style and will take a little longer.
There are a number of benefits to adding mulch to your garden beds. They include:
1-water/moisture conservation - mulch works like a sponge in that it will hold water and nutrients close to the soil, shields the soil from the drying effects of sun as well as reducing evaporation as it protects the soil from the wind’s blast. The plants form strong and healthy roots in this protective environment which also attract earthworms that provide another service, aeration. Aerated soil enhances water absorption.
2- Mulch controls weeds. Mulch makes it difficult for any weed seed to reach the ground and germinate; fewer weeds less time spend pulling weeds and reduced need for pesticides.
3- Mulch acts as insulation that keeps the soil cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
4- Mulch breaks down and feeds the soil which as any gardener knows is the gardener’s principal task; feed the soil and your plants have a better chance of thriving and feeding you.
1- Mulch is spread on top of the soil around the plants and along pathways. You can use wood chips, leaves from deciduous trees and shrubs, lawn clippings and sawdust as mulch around perennial plants.
2- For your vegetable garden use nitrogen-rich green materials, for example, lawn clippings and other green garden trimmings.
- To mulch your lawn leave the grass clippings in place after mowing as this add nutrients and reduce water loss.
- Annuals, perennials and vegetable seedlings can benefit from mulch which you move aside at planting time and then pull back around the plant as it grows.
- You do not put mulch too close to tree trunks or near the base of heat-loving vegetables and flowers (mulches cool the soil). Spread the mulch trees out to the drip line, which is the outer perimeter of the tree’s branches.
- Remove mulch or turn it under in the Spring as slugs and snails will see it as an ideal lace to lay eggs.
You will have a plentiful supply of green material as you cut the lawn, rake the leaves and carry out your regular garden chores. Save your kitchen scarps for the compost pile, keep them out of your mulch.