It doesn’t matter whether you are working with a vegetable garden or prefer to work with flowers. Mulch is a valuable tool for a great garden! However, it’s easy to feel stumped when things aren’t growing according to plan with several mulches on the market. This could be because you are using the wrong type of mulch or don’t know how to mulch correctly.
Here we can go over the essential types of mulch you are likely to come across. But, more importantly, we can talk about how to mulch correctly so that you can set your garden up for success.
Types of Mulch
It’s important to note that there are both organic and non-organic types of mulches. Different plants and products will also respond better to some than others. We can better meet our plant’s needs when we understand what mulch options there are.
Wood Chips/ Shredded Leaves
Shredded bark, leaves, and wood chips are mostly decorative mulch placed around shrubbery or plants to add a nice finishing touch. However, this is not the best choice if you are working with annuals and vegetables, as you will have to dig around them to replant constantly.
Compost is an organic mulch that’s an environmentally friendly option. You can buy it or take your household scraps and compost. This is the best for vegetable gardens and flower beds. There are so many micronutrients that will help nourish your plants.
Grass clippings are also great for vegetable gardens because they are nitrogen-rich. They can serve as an excellent fertilizer for your lawn and have an incredible re-use purpose. There is no need to buy from the store because you can just empty your lawnmower bag after a fresh cut.
If you are looking to cut down o\n your weeds, then straw or hay mulch is a great solution. It also helps retain the soil moisture needed for vegetable or flower gardens. Straw and hay are organic options when it comes to adding mulch.
Plastic mulch isn’t the first thing that comes to people’s minds, but there is a good use for it. A black plastic sheet wrapped tightly over the soil can provide a lot of warmth to the plants from the sun. It also can help protect them.
The primary use for landscape fabrics is to prevent weeds from coming up. However, the material still allows the plants to breathe and get water while deterring weeds from popping and growing. You don’t want to use this kind of mulch with shrubs because you wouldn’t want to use plastic mulch with shrubs either. The roots grow into it, and you’ll have to remove it.
How to Mulch Correctly
Now that we have a great base understanding of what mulch is available to us, it’s time to understand how we can mulch correctly. Understanding these basic steps and rules will help us prevent weeds from ruining our hard work.
Before starting anywhere, first, understand what kind of plants or vegetables you are working with. Then, we can choose the right mulch to work with based on whether they are annual, perennial, etc.
- Always lay mulch down on an already weeded area. Laying it down over weeds is a losing battle. You’ll also need to lay down a nice thick layer of mulch to prevent any new weeds from showing face. Consider four inches in sunnier spots and two inches in shadier areas.
- Consider pulling mulch away in the springtime from perennials to promote faster growth. Mulch retains moisture, and this is especially true with wood chips. It allows the sun to warm the soil faster.
- Wet mulch that surrounds and piles up against stems of flowers, shrubbery, and vegetables, will likely cause rot. This is another reason to back it away from the stems. Consider six to 12 inches away from the trunks to be good enough space.
Knowing the Basics
It’s helpful to understand what type of mulches are available to us as gardeners. More importantly, it’s helpful to know how they are best used and how to mulch correctly. However, even with the best processes, it doesn’t mean that are veggie gardens are bulletproof from insects and unwanted visitors.
That’s why researchers and developers have produced new food technology. Experts at Bowery Farming explain that nearly every piece of food we come across has been impacted by technology in some shape or form be it hydroponic farming, vertical farming, AI in farming. This includes the food we grow ourselves! For example, these products have helped us find better ways to support and develop our gardens. If we buy our organic compost, there’s a chance food technology helped make it.
Having said that, If you made your compost mulch, there are new machines to help us there too! So while knowing the basics is essential, embracing new tools and food technologies can help make our gardening better and easier than ever!