So this week I wanted to go over mulch and how to use mulch effectively in your garden. I talked a little about mulch in a previous article 10 best ways to get rid of weed naturally.
We went over how effective mulch is against weeds and how it can be used to basically smother weeds. But we went over briefly how to use mulch there and we wanted to explain its other uses in a little more detail.
What to Use Mulch For
Mulch does a host of things that your plants want and need, such as shading roots on hot days. It also prevents moisture from evaporating and stopping weeds from taking root.
But mulch does a lot it’s a plant enhancer, erosion buster, moisture conserved. Mulch does many beneficial things for your garden and learning how to apply mulch makes things easier and labor efficient.
it’s all about making the gardening process easier. With that said one part that is important is learning the differences between mulch materials, and how to properly apply them.
How to Use Mulch
I know your thinking “how to use mulch don’t you put it over dirt right, how difficult can it be”? Well while it’s not too difficult there are things you need to keep in mind.
Break down how much mulch you believe you need for your garden. Not spreading too so much but not to thin either. You want to spread mulch about 2-3 inches thick. Anything thicker could harbor pest!
There will also never be a perfect time to apply mulch to beds. Your plants will welcome much any time of the year which is good.
Depending on where you live there are perfect times to go ahead and get started as if you live in a cold climate wait until the ground freezes before mulching.
If you have obstacles like trees or bushes, and shrubs trying mulching around them as well. But this isn’t too relevant as I’m specifically going over mulch usage with container gardening.
Two Types of Mulch
There are two types of mulch inorganic and organic. Organic mulch include formerly living materials such as chopped leaves, straw, grass clippings, compost, wood chips, shredded bard, Sawdust, pine needles, and even paper
Inorganic mulch on the other hand includes black plastic and geotextiles. Both types of mulch discourage weeds, but organic mulches also improve the soil as they decompose.
inorganic mulches don’t break down and enrich the soil. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not a smart option for your garden.
How to Use Plastic Mulch
For example, black plastic, which is a very popular kind of inorganic mulch, warms the soils and radiates heat during the night, keeping vegetables that need heat such as eggplants and tomatoes thriving.
Mulching a vegetable garden with sheets of black plastic film can do wonders. Black plastic transmits the sun’s heat to the soil beneath, creating a microclimate about three degrees warmer than an un-mulched garden.
The plastic film will remain warm and dry, it protects the fruits of vining crops such as strawberries, melons, and cucumber from rotting. Of course, the mulch also prevents weed growth as well and retains soil moisture.
In a raised garden bed you want to lay down a sheet of plastic over the entire bed. Bury it at the edge or weigh the plastic down with the rocks.
Then you want to punch holes in it with a bulb planter and fill it with plants or seeds. Since water can’t permeate plastic, you can’t rely on rainwater to properly hydrate your plants.
If you have the means you can utilize soaker hoses or drip hoses on the soil surface before you put down the plastic.
So it would look something like the picture above before putting down the plastic.
Geotextiles, also called landscape fabrics, let air and water through the soil beneath while keeping weeds from coming up. But still, there are some drawbacks: when exposed to light, geotextiles degrade over time.
If you want to make them last longer, cover them with a second mulch. Similar to plastic mulch, you want to keep geotextile away from shrubs/shrub roots.
In the next section, I will go over how to use mulch specifically the different organic mulches you can use.
Organic mulches to utilize for your garden use
- Wood leaves – You can buy these from any local garden center in your area or you can use the leaves from a tree and collect them and spread and crumple them and utilize them as mulch.
- Grass clipping – This is another way to get mulch just from cutting your lawn and utilizing that as nitrogen-rich mulch in the vegetable gardens.
- Compost – This is yet another organic element you can utilize to enrich the soil but keep in mind to avoid that when mulch is dry it’s not a hospitable place for plant roots.
Hopefully, I touched upon a couple of points relevant to you, and I would like to hear your gardening experience so far and some of the obstacles you faced when trying to use mulch.