Adding mulch to your vegetable garden is one of the best ways to get a high-yield garden (aka lots of veggies!)
Mulch is a layer of material that's applied to the soil around plants. It prevents weeds from growing, holds moisture in the soil and helps control the temperature of the soil.
Although there are many types of mulch available, it's best to choose a mulch for your vegetable garden that's made of organic materials because it'll break down into the soil and provide nutrients as it decomposes.
Different Kinds of Organic Mulch For Your Vegetable Garden
Great veggie garden mulch can be made from many different organic materials. All of them have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to choose the right type for your garden.
Here are the types of mulch we’ve tried in our vegetable gardens (Spoiler Alert: The last one is our favorite):
1. Hay or straw
2. Wood chips
4. Grass clippings
Ultimately, your choice of mulch for your vegetable garden will likely be determined by what's readily available in your area. Most towns and cities have at least one option for the types of mulch we’ve listed above. Just keep in mind that not all mulch is created equal and you might have to try a few different options before you find the right fit for your garden.
1) Hay or straw garden mulch
Hay or straw is a great all-around mulch for any vegetable garden because it’s cheap, easy to find, and doesn’t break down quickly like other organic mulches like grass clippings or composted leaves. However, it does tend to blow away easily in the wind and needs to be watered down occasionally if it gets too dry.
Straw and hay is also a natural insulator against cold soil temperatures in spring and fall. However, straw and hay can harbor weed seeds and it can break down rapidly in hot weather. Straw and hay will also decompose over time, just like other organic mulch does. TIP: Be sure to find organic straw or hay, as both can be sprayed with pesticides that can leach into your soil and harm your plants.
2) Wood chips for garden mulch
Wood chips come from shredded bark and provides a long-lasting source of nutrients for plants because it contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. It's an excellent choice for staking tall plants like tomatoes or peppers because it holds together well even when wet, making it less likely for stakes to sink into the ground. Wood chips are also good for controlling weeds and holding moisture in the soil. It also creates an ideal habitat for worms and microbes, lessening soil compaction over time.
However, bark mulch doesn't decompose quickly like other types of mulch so you'll need to replace it every few years depending on how much sun hits it (the more sun exposure, the faster it will break down). Also, heavy rains will also displace wood chips.
3) Leaves for garden mulch
Leaves are a great choice for mulching your vegetable garden. They're free and easy to collect from your own yard or neighborhood, they decompose quickly and are readily available in the fall.
In addition to being free and widely available, leaves make an excellent winter mulch because they insulate plants from extreme cold temperatures. They also prevent moisture loss from plants during rainy periods by acting like a blanket over the soil surface. However, they do blow away easily in the wind.
4) Grass clippings for garden mulch (our favorite!)
Grass clippings are another popular mulch that protects vegetables from weeds while adding nutrients back into the soil as they decompose. Grass clippings also hold in moisture and provide weed control.
Just be sure you don't spray your grass with chemicals. Fresh compost is a great lawn fertilizer alternative. The other great thing about grass clippings is it is the least likely mulch to blow away. The grass blades knit together and stay put. One downside to grass is if you live in a humid area, grass can grow mold. You can help minimize mold growth by drying out your grass clippings or mixing it with another mulch type.
Shoot for 2-3 inches of grass clippings as garden mulch. You can always add more grass as it starts to breakdown over your grow season.
Mulch In Your Vegetable Garden Keeps Weeds Away
There are a number of great options for mulch. Using mulch is the way to go for most vegetable gardens because it keeps weeds at bay, holds in moisture, and feeds your garden.
If you haven't tried it, we hope you consider adding organic mulch to your garden. It's a total game-changer.
Another Tip For A Healthier Vegetable Garden...
In addition to adding mulch to your vegetable garden, if you REALLY want to love your plants, add an olla automatic watering system.
The Thirsty Earth automatic olla watering system waters your plants where they need it, at the roots. So there's no water lost to evaporation and your plants get to be the boss of how much water they need. This means bigger, healthier plants. All while using 60-80% less water!
Discover more about the Thirsty Earth olla self-watering system here, or give us a call with any questions you have about our olla cotta cups. (707) 536-3391