Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mulch, mulch, mulch

I know all good garden writers espouse the merits of mulch. Mulch in the winter to keep the ground from heaving and pushing your bulbs and perennials out of the ground if you live where the ground freezes. In hot, dry climates mulch your beds to conserve water and keep the soil from getting too hot. 

We've all read these helpful tips and, I think, said: "Yeah, yeah, yeah... mulch is good and if I were a perfect gardener, I'd do it. But, I don't always have the time and it doesn't make that much of a difference, anyway."

Well... I can't speak knowledgeably about the value of mulch where the ground freezes in the winter, BUT, I can and will speak to how well it works in the hottest parts of gardening territory. 

I've been meaning to mulch my herb bed again since it was done in the Spring. Now, I have mature Stevia, African Basil, Lemon Verbena, Sage, Parsely and some Chives in a bed raised about 3" above the surrounding area. I've been watering EVERY AFTERNOON because the Stevia and African Basils, which are well established, look so poorly in the heat. FINALLY, the other day, I took 2 bags of mulch to the bed and spread it liberally around all the aforementioned plants. 

Newly mulched bed of Stevia (towards the back), Sage (on the left) and some Sweet Basil (center) & African Basil (lower right)
Of course, it looks great... neater and more finished. But, the real VALUE is the plants that previously wilted in the hot afternoon temperatures, now look perky, fresh and ready to harvest. I'm not kidding!! It took me maybe 20 minutes to spread the mulch and water after. Be generous... a 2" to 3" layer is NOT too much. It might look like it's beginning to cost a lot, but, believe me, you'll save in water cost, time and your plants will look soooo much better. Besides, an organic type mulch will add nutrients back to the soil as it decomposes. It's definitely a WIN WIN situation.

Newly mulched bed showing parsley, basil and lemon verbena

So... if you have garden beds with plants that need watering EVERY DAY, take some time and a small outlay of $$ and MULCH, MULCH, MULCH. You will not be disappointed. Especially if you live where there's a drought- like Texas- or in a municipality where water has been rationed. You just might KICK yourself for not doing it sooner. 

The mulch will break down and by next Spring, you'll need to add another layer when adding plants to the bed or after the perennials that might have gotten knocked back by Winter are coming back.

That's my rant for today! Hope you've all enjoyed it and it has encouraged you to get into the garden and MULCH, MULCH, MULCH!

Till next time, 


1 comment:

  1. Hi, you're so right about mulching. I live in the usually very hot and dry southeast corner of Washington state. And its the combo of heat and winds that just suck the moisture right out of the soil! So mulching here certainly makes sense by saving watering time. I compost most of my yard waste, such as weeds, grass clippings and vegetable garden wastes in a compost pile. It keeps down the cost of buying mulch, and it's easy to do.
    Thanks for your blog! I love talking herbs!