Mulches For Gardens
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There are many types of mulches for gardens with various purposes, some of those purposes are to prevent moisture loss, erosion, weed germination and improve the soil.
Mulch is a very important component to growing a healthy garden; it also helps to provide a food source for micro-organisms in the soil, breaking down into humus, the vital ingredient that all fertile soils contain.
Benefits of mulch for the soil
- Retains soil moisture.
- Reduces weeds if applied at a 20-30cm thickness throughout the garden
(don’t apply at this level until plants are established).
-Provides a food source for micro-organisms.
-Keeps soil temperature consistent.
-Reduces soil born fungal diseases reaching plants.
-Makes it easier to pull weeds out as the soil is softer.
-Keeps vegetable gardens neat and tidy looking.
Key points on mulching
Thoroughly weed area first.
Don't mulch too close to tree trunks or plant stems, or they may rot.
Don't mulch heavily where you have just planted seeds or tiny seedlings for the same reason.
Types of organic garden mulches
Compost is like food for the soil! Your
soil will really come alive after adding good quality compost to your vegetable
garden. Making your own compost is a great way to recycle your food scraps.
Compost is best dug into the garden, or if it’s to be used as mulches for
gardens, you’ll need to cover with a straw mulch to protect the micro-organisms
that live in the compost, directly exposing compost to the sun will kill those
all important micro-organisms.
Lucerne straw stimulates root growth as
natural hormones live within the Lucerne mulch which suppresses root disease in
The nitrogen content of Lucerne foliage
is amongst the highest in the plant kingdom, and this nitrogen is in a slow
release protein form – perfecto!
Lucerne is a great worm food as well and will stimulate worm activity.
“Why dig when the
will do it for you.”
Straw and pea straw is a great mulch for
gardens that have good nutrient levels, as it decomposes quickly.
Only add manure to the garden after it
has decomposed a bit, raw manure can burn roots. It’s best to apply and then
cover with straw mulch or dig manure into the soil.
Manure is an excellent ingredient in
compost because of its high nitrogen levels and when mixed with mulch will
really get the compost going.
These can be added to the compost making
process, or used as is. Lawn clippings are high in nitrogen, so is great as
mulch for gardens.
Allow clippings to dry first before
applying, as grass seeds can only be killed out in the compost process
(temperatures above 55 degrees). Watch out for any runners in the clippings as
these will just take root and spread over the garden.
Once again, these can be pre-composted,
or used as is. Decomposed or crumpled leaves are best, as they don't blow away
as easily or mat.
Older sawdust is best for garden mulch. If plants show signs of lacking in nitrogen, add a
nitrogen rich fertilizer
Wood chips are very attractive mulch.
Once again, aged chips are better, to safeguard from toxins and fungal
Is an attractive mulch and long lasting.
Eucalyptus and pine bark are commonly used.
Good topsoil sold at garden centres etc
can be an excellent addition as mulches for gardens, as it contains lots of
organic matter which helps insulate, retain moisture, and provide nutrients as
it decomposes- everything you want in mulch. However, make sure that you are
buying good quality topsoil!
Sheets or shredded newspaper (uncoloured
ink), which is of course made from wood, can be very useful in the garden,
especially under other more attractive mulch. Great for cutting down weed growth
and an ideal inclusion as part of your mulches for gardens.
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