First of all, some of you may be wondering “What is Mulch?”
Mulch is a layer of ground/chopped up plant material, like grass clippings, chipped wood, carrot peelings, cauliflower leaves, leftover salad, potato skins, cucumber ends, tree trimmings and/or leaves applied to the top of soil. It’s like an organic “blanket”. Mulch is excellent for conditioning soil and moisture retention.
Mulch becomes compost after it decomposes and happens to be the best fertilizer available. Manure like cow, steer, worm and bat are also very good but you have to buy these. Mulch is free.
So how do we make mulch?
The absolute easiest mulch to make is grass clippings. It’s also the cheapest…basically free. I grow grass and weeds in my back yard for the sole purpose of creating mulch for my garden and yard. I used to pull out the weeds in my backyard but now I let them grow and then mow them down to make mulch. Weeds grow really fast.
My backyard used to be dirt because I would pull out every weed that grew. It was an endless chore. Now I water them and let them grow. They make excellent mulch/compost when mowed down. I’m also growing Bermuda grass too. Hopefully the grass will spread over most of my backyard. It also grows fast and makes great mulch/compost.
You can make mulch from just about any plant material except fruit. The best is leaves, grass, weeds and tree trimmings though.
Why Use Mulch?
Mulch is a great soil conditioner. It decomposes and turns into compost which is a great fertilizer with lots of nitrogen. Mulch also reduces water evaporation from the soil which means plants will get more water for a longer period of time. Mulch helps prevent soil from drying out. You have to water less when you cover the soil with mulch.
Here’s another bonus that I discovered recently. If you want to start a vegetable garden from seeds then Mulch is the secret. I tried Jiffy Peat Pots without success. They dried out very fast even though I watered them everyday. So I planted some watermelon seeds in my garden and covered the area with grass mulch. I watered every other day. 7 days later I had watermelon sprouts. It’s like magic.
One more benefit is weed prevention. Mulch will reduce the number of weeds that will grow in an area with mulch.
How to Use Mulch
Mulch is simple to use. You just spread it over the soil in a 1-2″ thick layer. Now water as you normally would but only when the soil under the mulch is dry. Mulch will eventually decompose into the soil so you’ll have to add more as the layer gets thinner.
So what’s the easiest and most productive way to start seeds for a vegetable garden?
Is it, in peat pots inside?
Or in garden soil outside?
Or by soaking them in water first and then planting them?
I figured this out the hard way…from experience. I tried the peat pots filled with garden soil. I placed them outside on my patio. I put 3 cucumber seeds in a 1/2 deep hole in each peat pot and watered every other day. They dried out very fast because they are exposed to the air on all sides. I tried to keep them moist but failed. They never sprouted after 2 months.
So did I give up? Nope
I had been experimenting with grass mulch in the yard, I have a 6′ x 4′ area covered with grass mulch/clippings. Mulch does wonderful things to soil. Anyway, I decided to throw the last 10 or so seeds into this area under about 1/2″ of soil and then covered it with grass mulch.I watered every few days for about 2 weeks. And Wah lah. I now have 10 seedlings growing throw the grass mulch.
Here is a close up of the cucumber seedlings growing through the grass mulch.
So why did this work?
Well, the grass mulch keeps the soil moist by preventing the air from evaporating the water. The seeds stayed moist and germinated in about 10 days.