From Ready Nutrition:

Mulching your gardens during the warmest summer months will do wonders for growing plants and will encourage a healthier soil environment for your plants to grow. Over time, this creates a biodiverse growing platform that will be the envy of the neighbors. In fact, this is one of the 7 laws of gardening. By doing this crucial step, it reduces evaporation from the soil surface by 25%-50%. This will drastically reduce how often you water and save you money in the process. As well, mulching controls the temperature of soil, shades the roots so they can branch out and grow, controls weeds and prevents soil compaction.

There are two types of mulches: organic and inorganic. In this article I will concentrate on the most popular types of organic mulches and ones that are easily found around the yard. I prefer organic mulches because they improve the soil quality as they decompose; which, in turn, encourages more microscopic activity in the soil. This makes it a more inviting environment for beneficial insects.

Here are some things to keep in mind when using organic mulches:

Weed first. By doing all the dirty work ahead of time, you will be less likely to do this during the hottest parts of the summer. Add your soil amendments and fertilizers before you mulch. When you add your soil amendments like powdered oyster shell, compost, manure or green sand to the soil before mulching, you allow it to really penetrate into the soil and give the roots exactly what they need. Don’t by stingy with the mulch. The more mulch you put down, the less likely weeds will grow. Most organic gardeners will put down 4-6 inches of mulch.

You don’t have to run to your garden center and spend a small fortune on these organic mulches, many of these you may have around your yard. Here are seven excellent mulches that will keep your garden thriving!

Grass clippings – Rather than throwing away your grass clippings after you have mowed this lawn, use them to your advantage. This natural mulch will also return nitrogen back to the soil, thus feeding your soil an essential nutrient to keep plants growing. This is also a great addition for lasagna gardens.  Pine needles – Many of us having a plethora of pine needles and may not realize these make a great mulch. Despite what you may have heard, pine needles will not change the acidity of the soil. They are an ideal mulch because they provide uniformity to the beds, easily allows water to pass through and create air pockets which is beneficial for the soil. Straw – Straw is an ideal mulch that really does everything an organic mulch should do: retains moisture, reduces weeds and adds organic matter to the soil when it breaks down. Make sure you purchase straw that is weed free. Shredded leaves – Leaf mulch is a great way to utilize fallen leaves. Read more about which leaves are best for mulch. These make wonderful mulches and have a slow decomposition process.…

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