Thursday, June 4, 2009
The Benefits of Mulching
Mulching in the garden is very beneficial. Mulch helps to conserve water, especially in dry, windy climates such as where I live in Texas. I have noticed distinct difference in how well the mulched beds respond to a hot afternoon compared to the ones with bare soil. The mulch will look dry on top, but if you feel underneath it, the soil is moist. Mulch also keeps the fruits clean. Rain and watering often splash mud on the plants. A layer of mulch keeps down the mud so you don't have to clean the fruits quite as much. Another benefit of mulching is that it insulates the soil. This is related to the fact that it conserves water. A mulch will keep the soil cool on hot days. And in the fall or early spring, it will insulate the warmth of the day, and keep the soil a little warmer on cool nights. Finally, mulch improves soil health. By mulching, you are adding organic material that will compost over the year, and when you till it in next spring, the soil will be better for it.
I used to think of mulch as decorative wood chips that you put around your flowers. But mulch in the vegetable or herb garden can be so much more than that! This year we are using bought composted cotton burrs. A friend who was moving away gave them to us. But we have also used leaves, rough compost from our pile out back, or straw.
Some people use black plastic around their plants, but I prefer not to go this route because plastic does nothing for the soil.
Try using a mulch on your garden this year and see how much better your garden grows!