Interested in watering your garden less, having fewer weeds, and having richer soil? Use mulch! If you already use mulch, use more mulch!
Adding mulch is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your garden. Mulch is anything that you apply on top of soil to cover it, such as straw, shredded leaves, wood chips or even newspaper or kitchen scraps. Mulch keeps weed seeds from germinating and moisture from evaporating.
One of the strongest proponents of using mulch in the garden was Ruth Stout, author of such garden classics as, How to have a green thumb without an aching back. Ruth Stout found that with year-round mulching, her prolific vegetable garden in Connecticut required no watering all summer! If you are not familiar with Ruth Stout, take a look at this excerpt from her book, Gardening Without Work, or even better watch this video of her. It’s a gem!
In addition to preventing weeds from germinating and soil moisture from escaping, organic mulch will slowly decompose and create rich soil.
Did you know that free mulch and compost are available to Town of Bedford residents?
The Beaver Dam facility processes all of the leaves and wood waste that the Town of Bedford collects, both from residents and from town properties. (This is where the leaves that are piled into streets in the fall end up.)
This yard waste is turned into mulch and compost, available for free to town residents, completing the cycle. To find out how to get mulch from the Beaver Dam facility, click here.
Want mulch that’s even more local than Town of Bedford mulch? Next fall, don’t even bother raking your leaves onto the street. Instead, transform your leaves into mulch right where they fall. To find out how, visit Leaves Leaves Alone.
- Spread mulch between plants in your garden. Anywhere where there is bare soil, is a great place to spread mulch. If you want to plant seeds or plants in an area that is covered in mulch, just push the mulch to to the side, and plant in the soil.
- Avoid making a mulch volcano around trees. Contrary to what you often see, it’s best not to build a mountain of mulch against a tree trunk. Doing so can actually harm the tree. The mulch should surround the tree, but not touch the trunk of the tree. For more information see, Cornell gardening resources: Too much mulch can kill!
- Use mulch on top of cardboard or newspaper to define borders, such as between your lawn and your edible or flower garden. This method is also excellent for creating new vegetable beds:
- Place corrugated cardboard or several layers of newspaper on top of the lawn or whatever area you would like to reclaim.
- Wet it down, and add several inches of mulch on top.
- The cardboard will keep the weeds from germinating for a long time. Meanwhile the mulch will slowly break down and turn into wonderful, rich soil.