Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Got Compost: Mulch in March to Protect Soil & Prevent Weeds: Don’t let recent rains fool you, California continues to experience drought conditions, negatively affecting local landscapes. A gr...
Don’t let recent rains fool you, California continues to experience drought conditions, negatively affecting local landscapes. A great way to conserve water, add nutrients and keep pesky weeds at bay is by applying mulch. This goes for every garden site, from vegetable garden to flower bed. Mulched gardens are healthier, contain fewer weeds and are more drought-resistant then unmulched gardens. Bottom line - you'll spend less time watering, weeding, and fighting pest problems.
There are two basic kinds of mulch: organic and inorganic. Organic mulches include formerly living material such as chopped leaves, straw, grass clippings, compost, wood chips, shredded bark, sawdust, pine needles, and even paper. Inorganic mulches include gravel, stones, black plastic, and geotextiles (landscape fabrics).
Both types discourage weeds, but organic mulches also improve the soil as they decompose. Inorganic mulches don't break down and enrich the soil, but under certain circumstances they're the mulch of choice. For example, black plastic warms the soil and radiates heat during the night, keeping heat-loving vegetables such as eggplant and tomatoes cozy and vigorous.
Using Organic Mulches
There are two cardinal rules for using organic mulches to combat weeds. First, be sure to lay the mulch down on soil that is already weeded, and second, lay down a thick enough layer to discourage new weeds from coming up through it. It can take a 4- to 6-inch layer of mulch to completely discourage weeds, although a 2- to 3-inch layer is usually enough in shady spots where weeds aren't as troublesome as they are in full sun.
Mulching with compost will definitely enrich your soil and make your plants happy, but remember, compost is a dense product so a little goes a long way – a 1 inch layer will do the trick. Keep mulch about 1 inch away from crowns and stems, 6-12 inches from shrub and tree trunks.
Organic Mulching Mechanics - Spreading organic mulch saves labor and nurtures plants by:
- Preventing most weed seeds from germinating; the few weeds that do pop through the mulch will be easy to pull.
- Protecting soil from temperature changes, reducing the need to water
- Decomposing slowly, releasing nutrients into the soil
- Encouraging earthworm activity, improving soil tilth and nutrient content
- Keeping dirt from splashing on flowers and vegetables
When possible buy compost and other landscape products in BULK! STA Certified Harvest Blend CompostÒ builds healthy soil. Naturally!