Well, we’re getting to the end of our gardening topics for the time being (although I’m sure I’ll hit on it again as the Fall planting season approaches). But before we bid adieu to the subject, there’s one last thing I want to talk about and that is mulch. What is it? And what do you do with it?
Very good questions! I’m glad you asked!
Mulch is simply “stuff” put over the soil/ground to act as a covering. Its main purposes are to keep the ground more evenly moist, keep the weeds at bay, and keep the soil cool in the summer and insulated during the winter (regulating soil temperature). Not to mention it can help the garden look more uniform and attractive as well. Mulch is the extra ‘little something’ that many people are missing from their gardens to give them that great gardening experience they are looking for. It really does make a difference! (This is the first year I’ve tried mulching and my weeding has been so much less of a hassle and I’m noticing good benefits all around!)
Most people tend to use organic mulch in their gardens for two reasons: 1) because it can be basically free, and 2) because as it breaks down, it also improves the soil. Organic Mulch is stuff like pine needles, leaves, newspaper, compost, bark (shredded or chipped), dried grass clippings, etc. (Inorganic mulch would be things like black plastic covering and stone or gravel.)
When applying mulch to your garden, add the mulch in between your rows of crops or around any hills. You can mulch right up to about a few inches away from your plants. And when the crop season is over, simply work the mulch into your soil (assuming it’s organic mulch) and allow it to enhance the soil to benefit the next season’s crops. It should be noted that some mulches can alter the pH level of the soil… specifically mulches comprised of pine needles and bark will likely adjust the soil’s pH balance toward acidic and should therefor only be used around crops that favor those soil conditions, such as strawberries, blueberries, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans and onions.
And for one last shout out for mulch, here is an awesome mulching tip I learned from my gardening lecture by the now famous master gardener (at least she’s starting to feel that way!). To apply a super awesome, weed-ridding mulch,
- First, weed your garden bed (you do not want to put this on top of green/live weeds… and don’t pick your weeds and leave them in the garden bed either! Toss them in the trash for pete’s sake!)
- Next, sprinkle powdered laundry detergent (like Tide) between your rows of plants. (I believe she said this was a pest repellent.)
- Then lay down 10 sheets of wet thick newspaper on top of the detergent (leave a few inches between the newspaper and your growing plants).
- Finally, throw some dried up leaves on top of the newspaper and you will have a weed free garden with some great growing crops.
Well, that about wraps it up! Hopefully we’ve been able to cover enough in the gardening arena for the time being to get us all well on our way to some great gardens! And remember what I said at the beginning of all this gardening talk… gardening takes time. Don’t expect a super awesome garden on your first go (and count yourself super lucky if you do!!). You will likely need to learn some tips and tricks that are specific to you and your piece of land as you go. So each gardening season should get better and better as you keep at it.