DIY | Creating & Using Mulch
If your garden is lacking, your bulbs are not sprouting the way you know they could, and your vegetables are not as robust as they should be; there is something that your garden is missing. It could be nutrients but if you are using fertilizer, then that shouldn’t be the issue. Perhaps your garden is missing mulch.
Mulch is used as a barrier for plants and gardens, protecting the stems from changes in temperature, wind speeds and even pests that can inhabit your garden. All of these factors can wreak havoc on your garden, having detrimental effects to your plants. Soil can even become contaminated with pollutants if it is not protected. Weeds will sprout up in places where previously, no weeds existed and even your vegetables can taste differently.
A Closer Look
This is where mulch comes into play, as it protects your garden and its occupants. Mulch can be used in various ways: to outline your garden beds, add texture and color to your garden, and to encourage maximum growth.
There are a couple sources from which you can obtain mulch for your garden, such as a local gardening center or nursery; or, simply create your own mulch. Mulch that is purchased is formulated for gardens and usually contains non-compostable elements such as fabric or plastic. It can be expensive, depending on the type, quantity and how far you need to travel to buy it. Creating your own mulch, however, is the easiest way as it is a simple process along with an organic mixture without added agents and the key components are things that are already on hand. Bonus? You’ll always have a ready supply to go when it is time to change your mulch or a new growing season is upon you.
How to Use Mulch
The best method to use mulch is to spread it evenly over the garden, allowing for overlapping around the plants. Use a rake to spread it over large areas or a trowel for the plants that are planted close together. Before spreading any mulch, always prepare the soil first. This involves removing any weeds and old mulch/compost that has broken down. Once the soil is prepared; the garden beds are ready to be mulched. The recommended amount of mulch for all types of garden beds is approximately between two to three inches.
Create a barrier between your lawn and your garden beds by adding more mulch to the outer rim of your garden; allowing it to raise slightly before evening out over the soil. Research what type of mulch is best for your plants and incorporate different types into your differing garden beds.
Once the mulch has been absorbed in the soil or has dried out to the point it is no longer effective (blowing away in the wind, weeds are coming through, etc.), then repeat the process.
When it comes time to end the growing season and the weather grows cooler with the chance of frost/snow in the forecast; up the amount of mulch you place on your garden beds to add another layer of protection for the bulbs, roots and seeds left inside.
How to Create Mulch
Before creating mulch, it is important to determine what ingredients you want to use. The best mulch is made from a combination of bark, wood chips and leaves (along with yard clippings) as they decompose over time to give your garden additional nutrients. Straw or hay can also be used in the creation of mulch, but it is important to use only dry materials.
Wood that is painted or stain-treated might need to be stripped before use; as some of the chemicals can have a negative effect on your garden, which is definitely not what you are going for. Wood chippings are the best bet for garden mulch – try renting a wood chipper or investing in one. In order to make wood chippings that would be best size and consistency for mulch; a wood chipper is the way to go for convenience and efficiency.
Once your ingredients have been assembled, place them in a pile for about two weeks; turning it over daily to mix the ingredients and to keep it moist. Once the mulch is dry, crumbly and a brownish color – it is ready to use. If you want to add newspapers, eggshells and coffee grounds to your mulch pile; it can even double as compost to add more nutrients to the plant life.
Mulch has numerous benefits for your garden and if you are serious about growing prize-winning flowers that awe people with their health and colors; then you want to incorporate it in your garden. If you are growing vegetables, then you want mulch to protect your garden at all costs, allowing those delicate seeds take root and supply your family with fresh and tasty produce.
Take a bit of time to research the best mulch ingredients for your gardens needs and watch as it skyrockets into the garden of your dreams!