Mulching & Other Garden Tasks

After the three day weekend, you might expect we would have lots of projects around the garden. Not necessarily the case! We really had only one larger project to complete, since everything is planted and we aren’t ready to start harvesting anything. That big project was spreading mulch.

We had some really nice wheat straw to use. It makes the plants look even greener! We try to put about 3 inches of straw around most of our plants. We mulched the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant today.

Here’s the mulched Pizza Garden. The garlic and shallots still have a little bit of straw left from last fall, so there was no reason to try to replenish their mulch. Things like beans and herbs we didn’t mulch, although we probably could have. The basil we left unmulched because it is still pretty small and it could use some more heat in the soil.

One of the effects of using straw mulch (or any organic material like leaves or paper) is that it cools the soil a few degrees. You don’t want to put straw mulch down too early, before the soil is nice and warm. We also left the vine crops unmulched for the time being, although we’ll put straw down in the vertical garden in a few more weeks. (On the other hand, that cooling effect will come in handy in a few weeks!)

The three biggest benefits of mulching are:

  • Weed suppression (who doesn’t want to have fewer weeds to pull?)
  • Moisture retention/even soil moisture (and we are VERY concerned about watering as little as possible here in Wichita!)
  • Disease minimization (many of the leaf spot diseases are caused by splashing soil onto lower leaves)

So go out and find yourself some mulch (if you haven’t already)!

About Rebecca

I'm a Horticulture Educator with Sedgwick County Extension, a branch of K-State Research and Extension, located in Wichita, KS. I teach about fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Posted on May 28, 2013, in Working in the Garden and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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