Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The power of mulch

Two things that turn some folks off of gardening are weeds and insect pests. But fear no more! There is often a very simple, natural solution to both of these problems. I'll explain how choosing and using a good mulch will both control and eliminate problems with weeds and many pests. But first, what is mulch? Mulch is organic matter that has been broken down some. You often see it spread around the base of trees. It is not big chunks of bark, but is rather cuttings of plantlife of all kinds.

Mulch is a wonderful, natural way of controlling weeds. When you spread it on yourgarden, it keeps the soil cool and also helps keep your plants' roots cool. It also helps maintain the soil moist. As for weeds, mulch basically doesn't allow weeds to grow. It gives them no room and no sunlight. In essence, a good mulch will choke out weeds so that you don't have to break your back pulling them.

But how can mulch deal with the pests that plague our plots? Firstly, having mulch around the base of your plants and on open ground has been shown to confuse pests. Slugs and snails have trouble navigating through mulch, and other pests find it hard to get through the mulch and at the roots of your plants.

Furthermore, if you choose a light colored mulch, like cedar or even straw, the sunlight will reflect off of it and bugs seem to hate that. It repels them in droves.

So now it comes to testimony. I have never once used any kind of pesticide or herbicide on my flower gardens. I got lucky in that I met an organic gardener early in my own gardening career. She taught me the value of good mulch. So I have used it and have only had the occasional problem with grass encroaching (I don't have much in the way of borders around my plots.). In essence, mulch is one of a gardener's best tools.

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