MULCH - A WEIRD WORD
By Trey Pitsenberger, co-owner
To mulch or not to mulch? This sounds like a strange
question, since mulch is a strange sounding word. It
sounds like a bad thing that a pest might do to your
garden. It’s actually a smart gardening technique
with many benefits.
Since mulching involves placing a protective layer over
garden soil, there is an aesthetic concern, especially
when gardeners start talking plastic, lawn clippings
and other less than attractive mulching materials.
Plastic and lawn clippings do make excellent mulches,
but frankly there are many materials such as redwood
and cedar bark, and bark chips that look natural and
nice, and will have a very positive effect on your plants.
The best understood benefit of mulching is that it conserves
moisture in the soil and prevents plants from drying
out. What may be less recognized is that this moisture
effect stabilizes soil temperatures (important during
summer and winter), and helps prevent water runoff, which
not only saves water but also keeps fertilizers out of
our creeks and bay. Oh yes, mulching helps a gardener
cut down on watering chores, too.
Weed control is a less recognized benefit of mulching,
but one that can quickly transform a novice gardener
into a diehard mulching advocate. By covering the soil
with mulch, you seriously inhibit anything from growing
(that has not already been planted) by cutting out light
to the soil below. Weeds can and will pop through a layer
of mulch, but with far less frequency, and with rich
soil under the mulch, they can be plucked out of the
garden with ease.
Some mulches take mulching to a new level by adding
15% chicken manure to a base of forest bark. These products
increase the natural bacterial action in soil, adds nutrients,
and helps break down the hard clay-like soils found in
most Foothill gardens.
While you can count on mulching to be very good for
your plants, you can also count on mulching to be very
good for you! You’ll spend significantly less time
watering and weeding. Mulching is easy and even intuitive
for most gardeners. Depending on your choice of mulch,
a 1/2-inch to 2 inch covering depth is what’s needed.
To apply Forest Mulch, for example, you simply spread
it around with a rake or by hand. A 2-cubic foot bag
covers 24 square feet to a depth of 1 inch. Give your
plants a little breathing room by keeping the mulch about
six inches away from stems and trunks. For cedar and
redwood barks, placement is the same. If you plan to
use bark on a path, walkway or driveway, use smaller
barks which are easier to walk on.
Mulching is a must for all of your plants that are heavy
water users: roses, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, vegetables
and more! Watering, weeding and even feeding in your
garden, and more time enjoying it!