Using Bark Mulch in the Garden?
Updated: Jun 9
Have you ever noticed the leaves on the ground in a forest or in the woods behind your house? I'm sure you have walked through the woods and never gave the groundcover under your feet a second thought. Those leaves and broken limbs are gold though. Trees and bushes use everything they make (leaves, bark, dead limbs) to improve the soil and to bring in micro-organisms which help breakdown the detritus on the ground.
Mycorrhizae (or fungus like mushrooms) colonizes the leaves and bark and tree limbs littering the ground to help breakdown that "waste" into something the other millions of bacteria use as food. Those bacteria then excrete the "good stuff" in the form of minerals which can be used by the trees and plants in the forest as food to keep the cycle going again.
Some benefits of using wood mulch in your garden or flower beds:
Moisture Retention - simply covering the soil with 2-3 inches of wood mulch will slow the moisture evaporation from the soil.
Temperature Moderation - the wood mulch will block the sunlight from reaching the soil which in turn keeps the soil cooler. Plants like their feet to be cool.
Weed Control - Probably the #1 reason because weeds typically can't be eaten :) But seriously, weeds find if very difficult to emerge from beneath a thick covering of wood chips.
There are a number of sources of wood mulch but the best source by far is to ask your local tree service company to drop off a truckload of mulch for free in most cases. Maybe you are having some trees cut down and chipped up. Guess what! You can keep that free mulch even though it cost money to have the trees cut down. No point letting someone have that for free when you can use it for your own plants.
Maybe you don't have room to store a large wood mulch pile from a tree service, swing over to your local big box store and buy it by the bag. Much more expensive but still a good option if you only need a small amount for a couple trees or bushes. Many local community landfills have a free mulch pile that you can use. Although this is going to be labor intensive, it's still free. Just be aware that you could be getting yard debris which was sprayed with chemicals or weed killers. These can still affect your plants so be wary of this option.
You can also use your own grass clippings for mulch if your mower has a bag attachment. Just be aware that grass clippings will decompose much faster than wood chips so you may have to apply more often. But hey, you cut your grass all the time, right?
There are a few precautions you should take with wood mulch.
Keep wood mulch at least a couple inches away from the trunks of trees or bushes or you could cause the tree to rot and die.
Concerned with termites? You can use a cedar mulch or keep the mulch at least 6 inches away from the foundation of your house or wood structures.
If you can, let the wood mulch age if you are not sure of the source. Most weed or grass killers breakdown in a few days when exposed to the elements such as rain and sun.
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C & L Farms Grows, LLC uses organic practices to raise fish and vegetables using hydroponics, aquaponics, as well as traditional soil based gardening. We only use organic pesticides on our vegetable plants or natural pesticide solutions. This video is NOT sponsored. Some product links are affiliate links which mean if you buy something we'll receive a small commission.
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Soak Coco Coir block in 1 gallon of water in a large plastic bin or wheelbarrow. Break up the coco coir as it hydrates with the water until it is light and fluffy. Add 2 quarts of Vermiculite and 2 quarts of Perlite to the Coco Coir. Be careful that you do not breathe in the perlite dust. Lightly dampen the Perlite and Vermiculite with some water and then mix into the coco coir until fully mixed. Use as a potting mix for fruit trees, berry bushes, flowers, herbs and vegetables. Can also be used for propagation. Add water to the mix if it dries out in between uses. Do not store it in a sealed container though when wet or you will get mold and mildew.
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