The gardens around my home in Richmond, VT, include a large vegetable garden, seasonal greenhouse, cutting garden, perennial gardens, rock garden, shade garden, berry plantings, lots of container plants and a meadow garden. But when it comes to the vegetable garden, mulching gets a bit more complicated.
Over the years, I've mulched my vegetable garden with oat straw, newspaper, grass clippings, burlap coffee bags, leaves and black plastic. Three Factors Key to Selecting the Right MulchTHE CROPNot all vegetable plants like the same growing conditions. Cool-weather crops, such as broccoli and greens, don't want the extra heat from a plastic mulch. .
GardenStraw — HealthiStraw
From getting too much sun to not enough, from constant watering to endless weeding, plants need a certain delicate balance of care to thrive. That’s where GardenStraw comes in: clean, consistent and convenient garden mulch made from 100% premium wheat straw that reduces watering, weeding, and damage to your plants.
Through our natural, innovative process, GardenStraw is filtered to remove dust, seeds, and any other impurities. Note, even with our thorough and natural process, occasional wheat seeds may sneak through and sprout in your garden.
Certified organic wheat straw is also available in both sizes, in limited quantities. .
Why Mulch Matters
So this podcast and show notes are dedicated to everything you need to know about mulch. I can always spot an area of the GardenFarm where the mulch layer needs replenishment – it’s wherever the weeds are coming up.
Wood Mulch – There are plenty of options for wood mulch, some of which I’ve already touched on. When I sow seeds, I tend to pull the mulch layer back and leave the row exposed once I’ve sown. I prefer to pull the mulch layer back and out of the way (unless the mulch is mostly decomposed). .
Straw Mulch in a Vegetable Garden
Straw Mulch in a Vegetable Garden Home Guides| Garden| GardeningMulch is a layer of material, organic or inorganic, layered over the surface of the soil. Straw mulch is typically made from the stems of grains. Unlike straw, plastic mulch is impermeable.
How to Mulch The quality of your mulch depends of the quality of the straw you use. In general, if the mulch is getting moldy and you are worried the mold will spread to the plants, remove the mulch.
Organic Mulch: A Gardener's Good Friend – Bonnie Plants
Mulch FunctionalityMulch Gets Plants Through Weather ExtremesDuring dry spells, mulch can save plants. Mulch Keeps Soil Moist LongerWater evaporates much more slowly when the soil around the plant is covered with mulch. Mulch Keeps Down WeedsOrganic mulch keeps the soil beneath it shaded, loose, and moist.
Mulch Keeps Plants CleanA mulch blanket under your plants keeps soil from splashing onto the leaves, which in turn helps prevent disease (especially on tomatoes). Mulch Becomes Valuable HumusAs organic mulches gradually decay, they increase organic matter and, eventually, humus in the soil.
Laying Straw in the Garden
Straw or hay for garden mulch improves the soil and protects your plants from drought stress and weeds. Using straw on garden beds is a low cost option that works exceptionally well in most applications. Straw comes in compressed bales and even a small bale usually provides enough mulch for a small garden. Straw on Garden BedsThe coarse texture of straw helps it trap air, which provides soil insulation and protects the garden bed from temperature fluctuations. If you have a choice between straw or hay for garden mulch, choose straw. .
Mulch Tomatoes Now to Save Time Later
Mulch ProtectsMany tomato plants grow large, heavy fruit. Mulch Saves WaterStaked and trellised plants usually benefit from mulch to save moisture.
Mulch Keeps Plants CleanA mulch blanket under your plants keeps soil from splashing onto the leaves, which helps prevent disease, something tomatoes are especially prone to. How to Mulch TomatoesMany make the mistake of laying mulch around tomatoes too early.
If you’re looking for more information on tomatoes, please visit our Organic Tomato Gardening Guide for more tips and tricks. .
Straw Mulch, the Ultimate Winter Garden Blanket
Little did I know that smart gardeners use straw as a winter insulator for bulbs, vegetables, and perennials. Straw is coarse and good at trapping air, making it an effective soil insulator in the both the winter and summer months. Above: A tip for us non-farmers: there is a difference between straw and hay, and it is an important distinction if using for mulch. Be careful when purchasing, however, as straw sold as lawn seed mulch often contains bonding agents that you wouldn’t want in your garden.
In harsh winter conditions, straw can be used to keep the soil insulated, while a garden blanket draped over a support (put your summer vine Tuteurs to work) protects exposed plants from snow and ice. .