Mulch is a protective layer used on your soil to retain moisture, reduce erosion, prevent weed growth and best of all, if it’s organic mulch, it will improve the condition of your soil, providing nutrients as the material decomposes. How great is that?
But what is organic mulch, exactly? Where does one find it?
That’s the best part. Organic mulch is all around you, from pine bark and needles to dead leaves and grass clippings, you already have a variety of mulch on hand. Even wood chips and shredded branches can be used. Shredded fall leaves are one of your plant’s favorite mulch, but for strawberries and blueberries, go with the pine. It increases the acidic value of their soil and berries love acid. Funny how they turn out so sweet.
Caution on the grass clippings: make sure they are weed seed free else you introduce a slew of trouble into your garden. Weeds are amazingly agile and can grow anywhere—even on top of landscape paper!
And for you farm folks, grab a bale of hay or straw and spread it around your garden, on your rows and between your plants. While you’re at it, check with Mabel the cow and see if she minds you borrowing some old poop of hers (old being the key word). Composting cow manure is a great source of organic mulch (and soil amendment) as well as a scoop from your kitchen compost pile!
No trees and no cows? No problem! Gather your old newspapers and some unbleached cardboard (think shipping boxes) for excellent weed prevention. You can layer whole sheets of newspaper or shred them, whichever you prefer. Cardboard is easily cut to size and blocks even the heartiest of weeds. Eventually they will both breakdown, but in the meantime, these two are winners.
Organic mulch will have to be replaced every year, but when you consider how valuable a resource it is for your soil, you’ll be more than happy to oblige. Healthy soil is the first ingredient to healthy plants. And the secret to easy maintenance.
Sounds like a lot of work. Is it really necessary?
Trust me, strolling through a weed-free garden admiring your plants is a heck of a lot more delightful than walking by weed after weed, nagging reminders of chores yet to be done. Your garden should be a place you WANT to spend your time, not a place you HAVE to spend your time.
At least for me. I have too many other things pulling at my attention to repeat tasks that shouldn’t need repeating! Do it right the first time and layer it on thick and you’ll be glad you did. Why, I bet next season, you’ll be adding new rows to your garden!