Using mulch and wood chips around your vegetable garden!
Using these materials around vegetable plants will benefit your garden in several ways.
You are simply introducing natural and organic material back to the soil. The mulch will slowly break down and add nutrients back to the soil. Adding mulch will help to insulate plants in cooler climates. Surrounding certain plants with a couple of inches of mulch will greatly insulate plants against extreme temperature dips. The mulch will actually help lock the moisture into the soil, slightly reducing the need for more frequent waterings. When using mulch around certain plants (tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, etc.) you can ensure that any fruit resting on the ground will instead rest on a nice thick matting of mulch. This will slow down the rotting that vegetables usually rush to once they sit on the ground. Weed control! Mulch is an awesome strategy in keeping weeds under control around your plants.
Here are a few tips on using mulch in your garden.
You do not want to pile the mulch too thickly. A simple covering of 2”-4” will suffice. Any deeper and you will have a hard time walking around in it and it will insulate the plants too well. I prefer to use mulch (actually wood chips) around my viney plants such as; cucumber, zucchini, crookneck squash, and pumpkins. These plants are nearly impossible to weed once they start spreading their vines and the fruit from these plants always sits on the ground. I spread my mulch with a pitchfork. Works great and is easy to get around your plants with fork. I don’t suggest using mulch everywhere in your garden. Simply use it in certain areas (as I mentioned above, around viney plants is perfect). Using mulch everywhere will make the soil tougher to row and work with
Some parting thoughts and suggestions!
I have used the terms mulch and wood chips interchangeably in this article, just fyi. There is not major difference except that many times mulch has been died and is more refined then wood chips. I suggest keeping any raw wood chips away from your home or other structures that contain wood. The wood chips can harbor and attract termites. If you get a pile of raw wood chips you can compost them for a couple of weeks to kill any termites. I prefer using wood chips because they can be had from almost any tree-removal/trimming company. I have a buddy who supplies all of our wood chips (as much as we want) for free. He has a hard time dumping them anywhere and is happy to get rid of them.
Steve Gunther is passionate about vegetable gardening. Though only introduced to gardening himself a couple of years ago, he has immersed himself in the gardening community. Steve is currently starting a website dedicated to vegetable gardening http://getready2garden.com/ and a blog :http://getready2garden.blogspot.com/