A Tramp in the (Organic) Garden

Seeds, Smack Talk and Assorted Gardening Madness in South Pasadena, Los Angeles

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mulch Like You Mean It

It's freakin hot out here. At least for us wussy Angelenos (I can say this, I'm actually a true Angelena) where, 85 degrees is hot and 60 degrees is cold. Everybody get's hot, even your little plantitas. You must protect them- from the fluctuating soil temps, the rapid evaporation of moisture from the soil, the elements in general. And so during this type of weather my friend, you must mulch like the wind!

Below are reasons why I implore you to mulch with something organic like wood chips, compost or shredded garden matter. You can even use grass clippings or newspaper, though the look is not as tidy as wood chips.

1- WEED CONTROL- It's difficult for weed seeds to germinate under a 2-4 inch layer of mulch. Reduce time spent a weedin' the garden.

2-REDUCE EVAPORATION OF MOISTURE FROM THE SOIL- Applying a thick layer of mulch to the soil will help you reduce watering tremendously during the hot summer months, and reduces the need for frequent watering.

3-ADD ORGANIC MATTER TO THE SOIL- Organic mulches like wood chips, compost, shredded bark, grass clippings, and newspaper will eventually decompose and add organic matter to your soil, enriching your soil, attracting earthworms, encouraging beneficial soil microbes, etc. Inorganic mulches such as pebbles, stones, gravel, polished glass or river rocks will not decompose and enrich the soil, but are still beneficial for the garden.

4-REDUCE POSSIBLE PLANT DISEASES BY REDUCING WATER SPLASHING SOIL AND LEAVES- Many plant desease are spread by water splashing the soil where fungal spores reside , then the leaves. When you mulch, you reduce the possibility of this happening. You also KEEP FRUITS AND VEGETABLES CLEAN.

5-KEEPING THE SOIL TEMPERATURE MORE CONSISTENT- Mulching will prevent soil tempurature from fluctuating. Soil that is too hot can stress a plant. A nice layer of mulch creates a better environment for a plant to thrive in.

But please, please don't mulch right up to the plant stem- give the plant's crown a little bit of breathing room...

...and get thee to a mulchery!


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