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Benefits of Mulching and Organic Mulch Materials


Mulch for a better growing environment.In your garden

Mulching is one of the purest and most beneficial practices you can use in a garden. Leaving soil exposed to the elements can cause erosion of topsoil and promote weed growth.  Mulch protects the ground, providing a protective layer of material on top of the soil. Organic mulches include grass clippings, straw, bark chips, and similar materials that will break down over time.  Inorganic contains items such as stones, brick chips, and plastic. Both organic and inorganic mulches have numerous benefits.

Mulch Benefits :

  • Protects your soil from eroding

  • Reduces your dirt compaction from heavy rain showers

  • Retain moisture. Therefore you will reduce the number of times you need to water.

  • Regulates soil temperature

  • Preventative for the growth of weeds

  • Keeps produce clean

  • Keeps your feet from getting dirty, by allowing accessibility to garden even when moist

  • Provides a "finished" look to the garden

The condition of the soil will improve with organic mulch. These mulches slowly decompose, steadily providing organic matter which helps keep the ground loose. This process of decomposing improves the soil quality which leads to better infiltration of water leading to stellar root growth.  It all begins with the roots.

Organic matter helps keep all members of the soil food web sufficed.  The microclimate created by the mulch is the ideal environment for earthworms and other beneficial soil organisms within the food web.

Specific landscapes require inorganic mulch, but they lack the soil improving properties offered by organic mulches. Regular mulches may make it difficult to remove if you ever decide to change your garden.

Mulch materials

Most of the time you can find mulch materials in your yard.  So, before you go out and spend money on bagged mulch, look around and see what you have or check out the free options.

  • Compost- Compost makes a beautiful mulch if you have a plentiful supply. Compost not only improves the soil structure but provides an excellent source of plant nutrients.

  • Leaves-Collect, chop and store them. They can be stored and added to compost pile throughout the year or can be used to make Leaf Mold.http://bigcitygardener.com/2018/01/02/how-to-make-leaf-mold

  • Wood Chips- When you do your annual tree trimming save the waste. Run this through a chipper, and you have wood chip mulch. Have a large garden and need large quantities? You can usually receive them for free from a tree trimming company. Fresh wood chips rob Nitrogen from the soil, to avoid this issue compost before applying and do not mix wood chips into the soil. Best to chop and compost before spreading. Did you know that most tree trimming companies will give this to you for free?

  • Grass clippings– Spread them out immediately and allow them to dry before applying to plants. That will help to avoid heating and rotting. Try to avoid using cuttings from lawns treated with herbicides. Not particularly attractive for a flower bed due to there color and texture, they are a godsend in the vegetable garden. The fineness of the surface helps them to be spread quickly and evenly even around small plants. The size also speeds up the decomposition time.

  • Newspaper– Save your papers because when used as a mulch, this works exceptionally well to control weeds. Apply sheets of newspaper and cover lightly with organic mulch material to anchor and prevent blowing away. A windy day can be a problem. Use only newspaper text pages (black ink); color dyes may be harmful to soil microflora and fauna if composted and used.

  • Hay/Straw-Works well in the vegetable garden, although they may harbor weed seeds. ** My preferred form of Mulch **

  • Pine needles-tend to increase the acidity of the soil, so they work best around acid-loving plants, such as blueberries.

  • Bagged Mulch- Bark chips and composted bark mulch are available already bagged at garden centers. These make a neat finish to the garden bed and will eventually improve the condition of the soil. These may last for one to three years or more depending on the size of the chips or how well composed the bark mulch is. Bulk may be cheaper if you need large volumes and have a way to haul it. Bagged mulch is often easier to handle, especially for smaller projects. Most bagged mulch comes in 3-cubic feet bags. Please inspect the mulch before purchasing. People accuse some companies of shredding all types of wood, including pallets and calling it mulch. Tip: Look for mulches made from local, native, hardwood trees.

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