March Madness 2016 came to a close last week with the final NCAA game between Villanova and North Carolina. So how did you fare in your bracket selection? You GO Villanova! Congratulations! The Garden Goddess remains loyal to her Philly roots….and always a champion for the underdog!
With March Madness in the history books for 2016, it’s now time for gardeners to think about “mulch madness” as we begin our garden season. I have dedicated previous blogs to the topic. But I feel compelled to do so once again, as the quality of mulch and timing of installation will result in either a championship or losing garden season. No sports brackets here….just a practice dialog based on regional garden experience and evidence, not chance or ideology.
I only use organic based mulches for gardens. I DO NOT recommend the kiln dried, dyed wood chips, you see in bags at the big box stores. Those of us who truly love getting our hands digging into the dirt appreciate a good organic mulch. This type of mulch consists of natural, organic ingredients that eventually decompose into the soil making it better and easier to work with. I have found even the poorest soil after 3 consecutive years of organic mulch, is more workable and chock full of good soil! The outcome observed in both plant growth and blossom visually demonstrate the benefits. I recently had a customer positively comment on the evidence of this three year cycle. She noted that patience and trust in the practice is needed. Her once poor soil now sports a flourishing perennial garden without automated irrigation!.
Organic mulch allows water absorption in your garden beds and encourages beneficial earthworms…yes naturally occurring soil aeration and fertilization from their presence. I get incredibly pumped when I see worms in some of my newer beds! This photo is the 3rd season of a bed I worked in Saratoga Springs this week. With a near neutral pH in good organic mulch, it helps both acid and alkaline soils reach their optimum range for releasing nutrients and to feeder roots of the plants.
Now is the time to begin installing your mulch. In and around Saratoga, I like to have the mulch in the gardens by mid May to start a positive cycle of growth. If applying mulch for the first time..do not even think about putting down a plastic weed block barrier. The plastic weed block and other fabrics under your top dress defeat many of organic mulch benefits. It places a barrier between the mulch and soil, reducing the beneficial decomposition. It also deters the presence of the earthworm. So forget the weed block!
This garden season make a commitment to organic! It is by far the only method in which we can assure our plants are healthy without chemicals. Once you see the difference, and feel the healthy benefit of your commitment, you wont ever go back to your chemical laden, faux mulch practices. Great organic mulch is the first step in going organic.
As always….”making common sense and sustainability a garden habit”
Looking to get your hands on some great organic mulch. I exclusively garden with a locally sourced organic mulch and can deliver to your Saratoga area garden. Feel free to contact me.