The Benefits of Garden Mulch

Garden mulch Is a key ingredient to a successful garden, whether it is in-ground, raised bed, container, or bag garden. A good  mulch will protect the roots from the heat of the sun and reduce evaporation, keeping the soil moist and reducing the amount of watering needed. This is particularly important in areas of low rainfall.

Mulching improves the fertility of the soil. As the mulch decomposes, it adds nutrients to the soil. In the fall, after the harvest, digging the mulch into the soil will enrich it for the coming season.

A good mulch, particularly newspapers, inhibits weed growth around the plants, Sprinkle some Epson salt under the newspaper to discourage pill bugs, snails and slugs. Epson salt also adds magnesium to help plant roots take up nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. It also improves absorption by the plant roots. 

A mulch applied at the beginning of the season will warm the soil, helping it retain heat that was lost during the night. This allows for early seeding. Just pull the mulch aside and plant the seeds. When they have grown an inch or two, pull the mulch back around them. If you are putting out transplants, dig the hole, put in the plant, pat the soil around it and pull the mulch back.

What To Use For  Mulch

Mulch can be almost any organic matter. If you are going to dig it into the soil later, it needs to be  chopped enough to cover the soil in a thin layer. It can be leaves, grass clippings, peat moss, wood chips, straw or hay. Fully composted materials from your compost bin can be used.

Newspapers make as effective mulch. Just lay the pages out on the soil. Put some soil on top so the wind doesn't take it.

If you want to garden organically, don't use plastic and other inorganic material.   Inorganic materials doesn't allow air circulation, thus encouraging mold and providing shelter for slugs and snails.

When To Add Garden Mulch

If you have not mulched the beds before planting, wait until the plants have sprouted and grown an inch or two, especially if you are using sheets of newspaper. This gives all the late comers time to break the soil. Apply a thin layer of mulch to the little plants. As they grow add more mulch.

After the harvest in the fall, dig the garden mulch into the soil. This will make the soil richer for next year's planting.


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