One of the most common practices among the gardeners is to put mulches under their vegetable plants. There are many types and techniques on how you could mulch your vegetable plants.
The question now is what is the best type of mulch for vegetable garden?
To be honest, it is actually hard to say what is the best type of mulch for vegetable garden as each type of mulches has its own pros and cons.
IN THIS ARTICLE WE WILL BE DISCUSSING ON A FEW TYPES OF MULCH THAT ARE COMMONLY USED IN VEGETABLE PLANTING.
Before we go into further details, i think it is good for us to first go through some of the benefits of mulching to the soil briefly.
First of all mulching can retain the moisture within the soil. As we all know water is very important for the plants growth and for the nutrients uptake by the plants. Therefore, by retaining the soil moisture you preparing the optimum condition for plants to grow healthily.
By applying mulch to the soil you are also tackling the weeds problem in your vegetable garden. This is because the mulches that you apply to the soil are suppressing the weeds’ seed from germinating.
Another benefit of mulching especially when you are using organic matters is that you can increase the beneficial microbes’ activities within the soil. Microbes will help in preparing the availability of soil nutrients to be taken by the plants.
There is an article that is discussing in details the contribution of microbes to soil fertility in this website, please click here if you would like to read it.
That is all regarding the benefits of mulching briefly.
NOW LET’S GO TO OUR MAIN FOCUS THAT IS TO DISCUSS THE BEST TYPES OF MULCH FOR VEGETABLE GARDEN AVAILABLE.
1. Plastic Mulch.
One of the common mulch that is used worldwide for vegetable gardens is the plastic mulch. Plastic mulch is a type of plastic that is specially made for the mulching purposes.
There are a few colors available in the market such as black, silver and red. Each color is designed for specific purposes, for example the red color mulch is used to stimulate the growth of the plants and silver color plastic mulch is designed to repel pests from coming near to the plants.
Unlike other types of organic mulches such as wood chips and straws that were put after the planting works, plastic mulch is put before you do the planting processes. Holes then need to be made on the plastic mulch in order to enable you to plant the plants.
Good things with the plastic mulch are that they are designed with certain purposes that you already know before you use it. For example if you are using the silver color plastic mulch you already know that it will help you to repel some of the pests from your plants.
The plastic mulch usually durable for the whole planting seasons without needed to be changed a few times.
The down side of this type of mulch is that it is not water permeable. Therefore, the chances that your soil to be in the dry condition is very high if you do not look into the watering frequency and efficiency carefully.
Another down side for plastic mulching is that is does not supply your soils with nutrients over time unlike the organic material mulching such as the wood chips and straws. Wood chips and straws will be contributing nutrients to the soils once they decayed.
2. Weed Control Fabric
Another man made mulch that is available in the market and are often used by vegetable gardeners is the weed control fabric.
A weed control fabric is also made from plastic but is water permeable, so it is different from the plastic mulch that was discussed earlier. Weeds however will not able to go through this fabric unlike the water.
The weed control fabric is also tending to be more durable compare to the plastic mulch. You can use it again and again for many growing seasons provided you keep it in a safe place during the winter seasons so that it would not be frozen.
As its name this type of mulch is purposely made to control the weed and no other functions it can do for you unlike the plastic mulch that have a few other functions in helping the plants’ growth.
3. Hay Mulch.
Hays are initially the plants such as grass, legumes and alfalfa that are planted to be as animal food such as cows, horses and rabbit.
Hays are organic or natural types of mulching and therefore besides helping to control the weed problems and retaining the soil moisture in your vegetable garden, hays can also help to improve the soil fertility by increasing the beneficial microbes’ activities and increase the availability of plants nutrient once they start decaying.
Common problems with hays as a mulch is that they usually contain a lot of weeds’ seed. Instead of helping you to control the weeds problem in your vegetable garden they end up by giving you more problems in terms of weeds. That is what usually said and experienced by many gardeners.
Off course there will always be pros and cons of using hays and many people are still debating with each other regarding this. You may found that some gardeners may like to use hays as mulch and some gardeners will try to avoid to use them. The best thing is try it for yourself and if don’t like it change to another type of mulch.
4. Straw Mulch
Unlike hays that are planted to be used as livestock food, straws are actually by products or waste of some crops that have been yield such corn stalk, barley, wheat and oats.
Using straw mulch will give the same benefits as using the hay type of mulch. The good thing with straw mulch if you compare it to the hay mulch, according to many gardeners is that it does not contain a lot of weeds’ seed. Therefore you do not have to worry about the weeds problem that will caused by them.
5. Wood Chips Mulching.
Wood chips are tree parts that have been ground or grinded into small pieces that enable you to use it as mulch.
As organic matters wood chips will bring a lot of benefits same as any other type of mulches.
The only problem that have been highlighted by some researchers regarding the woods chips is they are high in carbon and cellulose so they need a lot of nitrogen to decompose.
When that situation happened they will absorb nitrogen from the soil and will become rivals to the plants.
However not all researchers agreed on this matter as it is very less significant to the plants growth. Some said it will not be affecting the plants as wood chips are only affecting the nitrogen on the soil surface not the one within the soils.
This is the end of this article. It is hope that this article could help you in making the decision to choose the best type of mulches for your vegetable garden.
Any opinions and suggestions are most welcome. Please write it in the comment section below.