For the many, many years that I have been gardening I’ve tried many varieties of weed control. Finally this year I may have the answer to the age old question to mulch, or not to mulch. I say mulch! There are many reasons why; that we will explore in this blog post.
First off let me start off by telling you in my early gardening years I over gardened. By this I mean in all honesty I bit off more than I could chew, and there was NO way one person alone could have kept up with that garden. At least not while working a full time job! It was ridiculous! A never ending battle pulling weeds, and buying into a garden gimmick hand tiller that never worked well enough for me. Have I mentioned that I am a dreamer, and think that I am the original Superwoman? LOL
So a few years into gardening I heard about using newspaper to control the weed population. It may work for some people, but for me it was a complete mess. It must have been non-stop gale force winds all season it seemed. I’d come home after a twelve hour shift to find newspapers all over the yard, in the tree line, and anywhere you could think that a newspaper would like to travel to.
One year I used grass clippings as mulch. Dumbest idea ever when you realize a little too late that your yard is infested with dandelions which you have now introduced to your freshly tilled garden. As you can imagine I actually thought about trying to make dandelion wine, jam, and whatever else you could make with a full crop of these yellow bastards.
Fast forward almost twenty years…
Last year we salvaged the landscaping mulch when we switched over to rock. Taking that mulch into the garden worked well except it was a dark mulch, and tended to cook the younger plants in the beginning of the season, but if you water it enough when it’s cool in the mornings it seemed to help. As the plants grew this mulch worked surprisingly well. Sure there were weeds here and there where I didn’t put mulch thick enough, but for the most part I was super happy with the mulch. I was able to spend more time harvesting and preparing our veggies.
This year is a new mulch and so far I am very happy with it. I purchased about 8 bales of pine shavings from the local co-op, and have been using that as mulch. Mulching with this material has shocked me in so many ways! First of all unlike it’s cousin the landscaping mulch, this is lighter in color and isn’t cooking the plants. Second it is maintaining moisture in the soil very well even in this sweltering heat we’ve been having. Third, if it’s thick enough it does cut back on weeds, and if there are any determined bogies I just plop more shavings on top of the problem area, and presto. Smothered weeds.
The garden this year is full with the companion planting, but it also looks nice and neat with the mulch that we used. While it’s not as cheap as recycled mulch the pine shavings are not too expensive. I think in total we probably have 50 dollars in pine shavings. The mulch from the store would have costed probably double in price. The saving grace of mulching your garden is time saved from back aching weeding and hoeing.
So, I say mulch! And keep living that simple life!!!