Be part of the Discussion About | Explore | Sign In (or Join)
All Event Types


Mulch Makes the Most of Gardening Resources
5/2/2012  •  Comment (1)
By HannahW


Mulching helps me get more from my water, time, fertilizer and energy. I’ve written about how mulch helps me deal with hot and cold, wet and dry.  It also smothers weeds and enriches soil during the growing season and protects soil structure from repeated freezing and thawing in winter. There are many materials you can use as mulch.

Lawn clippings add nitrogen to the soil as they decompose.  They may be weed-free if you mow your lawn before anything goes to seed in it.  Be careful of clippings from lawns that have been treated with herbicide; it can kill garden plants. Keep the layer of clippings shallow -- more than an inch deep will turn slimy as they decompose.  When they decompose they shrink quickly, so aren’t a good winter protection.

Leaves are weed-free. They rot very slowly and make good winter protection. However, they are apt to blow away unless they’re put between tightly spaced plants or covered with brush or fence material.

Hay is slow-rotting and doesn’t blow away, but it does contain weed seeds.

Sawdust is useful in paths because it consumes a great deal of nitrogen as it decomposes.  For the same reason, it’s unwise to put it around your seedlings unless it’s aged. It’s acidic and prone to blowing.

All the mulches above suppress weeds. They also reduce the soil’s sun exposure and slow its warming,  so it’s best not to put them around heat-loving plants like tomatoes in spring while the soil is still warming.

Coffee grounds don’t help with weeds, but they add nitrogen to the soil and repel flea beetles and other pests.  Keep in mind that they lower soil pH.

Compost won’t help with weeds either, but it adds humus and nutrients to the soil and balances acidity. I add 1 inch to all my beds yearly and put more around heavy feeders like broccoli.
Cick here for more mulching ideas.  Chances are you already have useful materials on hand.



Tags: organic gardening, mulch, compost, saving water, saving energy, using less fertilizer, conserving resources
I've had a lot of success with Liquid Compost.  I double the amount for the initial treatment and than treat the plant once a month throughout the summer.   I've been able to save a few Rhododendrons that had winter damage.
AndreaT AndreaT