Mulching the Garden

>> Monday, June 15, 2009

(Note:  It has been quite some time since I last posted to this blog.  Connie and I made a trip to Wisconsin to visit our daughter, Anna, and her family and to be there for our granddaughter Beth’s high school graduation.  We were quite busy before and after the trip.  Hopefully I can get back to posting on a more regular basis.)

Mulching the garden, or at least part of it, is something we have tried to do for many years.  Mulching is simply to cover the soil around plants with a protective material.  It can be either an organic or inorganic material.  We have generally use organic material, most often hay or straw.  I have used grass clipping on occasion.

Last year we didn’t have much material for mulching available so we made plans for this year.  The last cutting of hay, which wasn’t quite as good as some of the earlier ones, was designated for mulch.  I believe there was somewhere in the neighborhood of 140 bales.

Mulching does a number of things.  It reduces weed growth cutting down on the hoeing and weeding in the garden.  Also it helps in maintaining more uniform moisture conditions.  Soil temperature is also modified by mulching.  The organic mulches such as we use keeps the soil cooler by acting as insulation.  Having mulch around plants reduces splashing of dirt onto the fruit and plants, leaving the fruit and leaves cleaner.  An additional benefit is that the organic mulches add nutrients and humus to the soil as they decompose.  This improves the tilth and moisture holding capacity of the soil.

Yesterday the boys and I began our mulching for this year.  We started with 9 rows of potatoes and 11 rows of onions.  There is much more to do.  We used 15 bales of our mulching hay.

June 14th 003 In this photo you can see where we began, having only a small amount done.

June 14th 004 The 9 rows of potatoes are mulched.

June 14th 007 The onions are now done.  Looking to the right you can see another 11 rows of potatoes to be mulched after we get them side dressed with some good compost.  We have melons, tomatoes, squash and many other crops to mulch as time and conditions permit.


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