Monday, March 22, 2010

The Benefits of Organic Mulching

What is organic mulching?  Some people get composting and mulching confused as related to growing vegetables organically.  For clarification, composting is the process of turning organic matter into compost.  Mulching, on the other hand, refers to the application of compost or other organic material.  Let's look at some of the benefits, as well as a few don'ts of organic mulching.

Benefits of mulching include:
  • cuts down on weed growth
  • helps soil maintain nutrients and moisture
  • controls temperature of the soil
  • raises organic matter volume in the soil
Things to avoid when mulching: 
  • fresh sawdust can limit the amount of nitrogen in the soil
  • materials that could contain weed seeds, such as fresh grass
  • any organic material that is suspected of having toxins
  • applying to early in the spring can prevent proper soil heating, wait until the soil is 65 degrees at 4 inches
  • getting mulch to close to the stems of plants, 2-3 inches away is a good rule of thumb.
When you are using compost as mulch, it is not necessary for it to be broken down completely.  At the end of your first season, organic mulching should be performed to improve your quality of soil for the next year.  As with any gardening topic, check with local professionals to see exactly what may be best for your area.  Ask for these recommendations when getting your soil tested.  With proper use of mulch, you will find growing vegetables organically to be a more enjoyable experience. 

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