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. .

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). .

7 Organic Mulches for the Vegetable Garden

Straw and seedless hay are terrific for the vegetable garden, but be sure to layer it on thick. The other benefit of using organic mulches is that they eventually break down into the garden bed and help build the soil. While any organic mulch is appropriate for the vegetable garden, sometimes there are strategic reasons to choose one over another. Use generous amounts from your compost bin (or pile) for the ultimate in mulch for the vegetable garden. Straw and seedless hay are terrific for the vegetable garden, but be sure to layer it on thick. .

How To Use Mulch To Stop Weeds In Your Vegetable Garden

Mulch in the garden helps to stop weeds and build better soil over time. How To Mulch A Garden To Stop WeedsThe real secret to a weed free, low maintenance garden really comes down to choosing the right mulch for the specific areas within a garden. Instead, use a heavy dose of mulch to stop weeds in these non-growing spaces for good! Straw is an excellent garden mulch, but can be on the expensive side depending where you live.

Mulches To AvoidWhen it comes to garden mulch, there are a few you will want to avoid all together. .

How To Make The Best Mulch For A Vegetable Garden

Making mulch for your vegetable garden is one of the best things you can do for the health of your plants. Squelch weeds, feed your plants, clear away leaves, save money, optimize garden soil temperature, prevent soil erosion, and beautify your vegetable garden with homemade mulch. To make mulch for a vegetable garden (or flower garden, or herb garden), use any non-toxic organic matter. Store-bought wood mulch (often sold as bark mulch or red wood mulch) is factory-processed into uniform-sized bits with similar chemical properties. Homemade mulch is of higher quality than any mulch you can buy, and making your own will give you a sense of accomplishment and pride. .

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. .

Mulch: We Have So Mulch To Talk About — Seattle's Favorite

Mulch serves to conserve moisture in the soil, improve nutrients and soil structure, deter weed growth and help control erosion. Mulch can be organic (compost, leaves, bark, cardboard, newspapers, etc.) Inorganic types might be fine for a temporary cover, unique plants (such as succulents in gravel) or other unique situations where organic mulch might not work.

Some people prefer inorganic just for appearance or for the ultimate in low-maintenance (doesn’t decompose for a long time), but those materials do little for your plants’ health. Hence, the confusion when we mention using "compost" as "mulch"! .

Mulch Must-Knows

gloved hands planting cranesbill with surrounding mulch Credit: Marty BaldwinBenefits of MulchThere are a number of advantages to adding mulch in your garden. The best depth for a mulch layer is 2-4 inches.

Over time, garden mulch types made from organic materials (those produced by or part of a living thing) break down and increase your soil's structure and fertility. Make sure the ground has frozen a few times before adding mulch as a protective layer for the winter.

Types of Garden Mulch .

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