Mulching is the process of placing material
on top of the soil
to accomplish some purpose.
You may mulch a flower bed with Gravel
or Crushed Bricks to prevent weed growth and create an attractive appearance.
You may also mulch a low area with River Stones to provide a path for runoff
without causing erosion.
Gardens may be mulched with Newspaper,
Plastic, Dead Leaves and Grass Clippings, Sawdust, Carpeting, Hay and Straw, or
Compost. Whatever you use is influenced by what is available and its intended
If you are mulching to control weeds,
most of the mulches will suffice. If the mulch is intended to change the soil
texture, then sawdust, dead leaves and grass clippings, newspaper or compost may
be the best choices, since they can later be worked into the
If you use hay or straw, be sure it does
not contain seeds, or you may be planting a weed bed. Clear plastic is best
covered with a material to prevent penetration of sunshine, or you may be
creating a weed greenhouse. Plastics should also be perforated to allow water
Natural plant matter has the benefit of
attracting Worms to the cool moist underside. The worms leave nutrients behind
as they aerate the soil beneath the plant matter. Water can easily penetrate
plant matter, but is prevented from eroding the soil. You can also walk on thick
plant matter without compacting the soil.
To be an effective weed killer, mulch
must be thick enough to exclude light. Four to six inches is considered
adequate. More can be added as the need arises. Pack it between the rows and
between the plants. You may still have minimal weed growth near the plant stems,
which should be "nipped in the bud" to prevent weeds from robbing your plants of
Planting Potatoes is done by placing the
potato eyes on top of the soil. Then they are covered with several inches of
mulch. This allows the maximum soil-warming effect. As the mulch compacts, or
you see weed penetration, increase the mulch until eventually it may be as much as twelve inches thick.
The potato plants will soon grow through
this mulch, and eventually bloom and turn brown. Then lift the layer of mulch
back, and pull off the potatoes. After you harvest a meal, you can replace the
layer of mulch and harvest the rest later. Generally they are relatively clean
and free of insect damage.