Mulching: the Dos and Don'ts (part 1)

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Mulch is a layer of material placed on top of garden soil to discourage weeds and increase water retention. Bonus - as it decays and breaks down over time, it can add extra nourishment to your soil. Win!

Mulch comes in organic or inorganic, but personally, I recommend avoiding inorganic mulches if possible.

First, the basics of inorganic mulch:

  • They're man-made materials, and as such, they are often plastic-based. Due to this, inorganic mulches don't add extra nutrients to the soil, as they don't really break down.

  • In the case of cool weather crops such as broccoli and leafy greens, the plastic used in some inorganic mulches can cause extra heat buildup in your soil, which means your cool-loving plants aren’t getting what they need, and may overheat.

  • Since plastic isn’t weather permeable, your plants could go thirsty. Inadequate moisture can stress your plants, which can potentially lead to blossom-end rot on crops like tomatoes. Ultimately, a lack of moisture can diminish your overall harvest.

From my view, there are more cons than pros to inorganic mulch, so I'd avoid it.

Organic mulch – here's what you should know... By contrast, organic mulch can do a great job of creating additional nutrition for your plants, and it can help the soil evolve into the perfect support network for your plants. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

Before you begin, it is important to note that organic mulches do a very good job at cooling the soil underneath them, so you need to make sure that you allow your soil some time to warm up and dry out a bit, before you apply your layer of mulch.

There are 5 primary types of organic mulch to choose from:

  1. wood chips

  2. shredded leaves

  3. grass clippings (and my two personal favorites)

  4. compost

  5. hay

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