4 Reasons You Should Add Mulch to Your Garden

The soil has been prepped, the compost added, the plants – flowers, veggies, herbs – are in the ground and you’re ready to admire your handiwork and enjoy the fruits of your labors. But don’t forget that last and very important step: mulching.

Adding mulch to your finished flower or vegetable beds is about much more than making the beds look nice. Mulch serves four important purposes:
1. Mulch holds down the weeds. And, hey, who doesn’t appreciate less weeding?
2. Mulch holds in the moisture after watering or a good rain. And in our Charleston summer heat, we know the plants will need every bit of water they can get.
3. Mulch helps cool the soil. Idea: let’s all cover ourselves with mulch come the middle of July!
4. Mulch decomposes into the soil so eventually it’s adding good compost to your beds.

Now you know why mulch is important, let’s look at some top choices for mulch.

A favorite pick is wheat or oat straw. In fact you might have a bale sitting around from your fall decorations. What’s important to note about straw, though, is that you can’t just pull apart a bale and start scattering it on your bed. You need to let the wheat germinate before adding it to your beds or you’ll end up growing wheat instead of squash and kale.

Another great option is to let your neighbors rake up their leaves. Then, you drive around the neighborhood the night before yard waste collection and, voilà, readymade mulch all bagged up and free.

A final option is pine straw. It’s not the best choice because it takes a long time for the pine straw to break down plus it incorporates into the soil but it’s better than nothing if you’re in a pinch.

You might think wood chips look nice but they mix into the soil and pull out the nitrogen so we suggest avoiding wood chips as a mulch for your flower and vegetable beds.

Lastly, don’t go overboard on the mulch. About a 2-inch covering is all you need. Too much mulch leads to too much moisture and that causes bugs.

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