Garden Mulch
Minimize the need for Weeding

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 purpose.

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 soil.

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 penetration.

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 nutrients.

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.

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