What Is A Good Wood Mulch For Vegetable Garden?
The best wood mulch for vegetables is not just any old wood. It must have some sort of value or it will not be used. If it’s too cheap, then it won’t last long enough to provide protection from frost damage. If its too expensive, then it’ll rot before the plants are ready to harvest.
What kind of value does a good mulch have?
Well, there are many types of mulches out there. Some are made with natural materials like pine needles and branches; others use synthetic materials such as plastic or paper. There are even mulches made from recycled newspaper! However, all of these mulches tend to be less effective than one another when it comes to protecting your vegetables from frost damage.
Wood mulches work by trapping air around the plant roots. When temperatures drop below freezing, cold air is trapped underneath the root zone. This causes frost damage because water freezes and ice crystals form inside the frozen soil. Wood mulches trap heat very well, so they keep your plants from overheating during winter months.
They’re also easy to clean up since they don’t require much maintenance other than regular mowing or trimming. This means you can have professional looking plants that don’t cost an arm and leg. The best type of wood to use is called hardwood, which consists primarily of oak and ash trees. Hardwood mulches aren’t cheap, however. They range in price from around $40 to $80 depending on how much you need. If you’re strapped for cash, you can look for other types of wood that might be cheaper such as pallets or scrap wood. It’s best to avoid cheaper wood such as pine, because it will disintegrate before your plants even get a chance to grow large enough to harvest.
Cedar is a type of wood that is often used in container gardens. It’s not normally used for raised bed gardens because it doesn’t break down very easily. What this means is that you’ll have to buy new mulch every year. For most gardeners, this isn’t exactly cost effective in the long run.
However, if you have the money to spend on cedar mulch, it is one of the best materials for frost protection.
What Is A Good Synthetic Mulch?
Sometimes, wood mulches can be hard to find or they can be pretty expensive. If you’re looking for an affordable alternative, then you might want to look into using a synthetic material such as paper. Paper mulches are available at most local home and garden stores. They come in large bags and are relatively cheap. For around $20, you can get enough paper mulch to cover the entire area of your raised bed garden. However, they don’t provide as much protection from frost as wood mulches do, so you’ll need to be careful about the plants that you pick. It’s best to stick with heat loving vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and squash.
Newspaper is also another great choice as a mulch. It’s free if you can get your hands on it, and it also provides good protection from frost. The only problem with using newspaper is that the ink from the newspapers can sometimes end up getting into the soil and onto your vegetables. This isn’t very healthy to eat, so it’s best to avoid using newspaper if possible.
Black plastic is another popular mulch that’s available at most garden stores and nurseries. It provides good frost protection, especially if it’s left in the sun for a day or so before you plant your vegetables. Black plastic also has the added benefit of heating up the soil underneath, which can help your plants grow better. The only problem is that the extra heat can sometimes cause unexpected side effects such as drying out your soil more quickly.
This can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it.
While it’s certainly more cost effective to use materials that have already been used such as newspaper, plastic, and wood, there are times when using brand new materials will work better for your specific needs. For example, if you have a very large garden, you might find it cheaper to buy a big bag of potting soil rather than using dirt that you have to bring in from elsewhere. You can always go the cheap route when it comes to buying new materials and then upgrade if you find yourself running out of money.
In addition to using new materials, you can also save a lot of money by reusing items that you might have thrown away. For example, milk jugs make great water carriers, old shirts and towels can be ripped up into pieces to use as pot holders for your seedlings, and broken CD’s make excellent mulch when crushed up. The point is, there are a lot of things around your home that you can use as garden tools and equipment. You just have to pay attention to what you already have before you go out and spend money on new stuff.
Choose Your Plants Wisely
One of the biggest cost factors when starting a vegetable garden is buying the seeds or plants themselves. However, if you’re creative enough, you can sometimes find what you need for free. For example, if you have friends or family members that have gardens of their own, see if they have any extra seedlings or seeds that they can spare. You might be able to get enough to start your own garden.
Also, keep your eyes open for seedlings when you’re out and about. Drive around on the outskirts of town and see if you notice any gardens. Ask the owners if they have any extra seedlings or seeds that they might be willing to give away. You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to give away free stuff if you just ask them.
Gardening is a fun hobby for some people, but not everyone has the time or desire to take it to the next level and grow enough produce to sell or trade with others.
Starting Your Garden
This chapter focuses on starting your garden using the absolute cheapest method of getting started. Understand that once you start growing plants, they don’t just grow instantly. You need time to allow them to mature so that you have something ready to harvest. It typically takes at least a few months for most plants to mature and be ready for harvest.
So, if you start your garden during the winter months, you might not get anything harvested until the following late winter or early spring. However, this can still work to your benefit because starting a vegetable garden actually helps restore nutrients to the soil that might have been depleted over the course of the year.
Also, be aware that starting and maintaining a garden usually means getting your hands dirty.
Sources & references used in this article:
Mulches to control root-knot by JR Watson – Proceedings of the Florida Academy of Sciences, 1944 – JSTOR
Research and extension priorities to ensure adaptation of high tunnels and biodegradable plastic mulch in the United States by C Miles, C Beus, A Corbin, R Wallace… – Agricultural Plastics …, 2009 – vegetables.wsu.edu
Barriers and bridges to the adoption of biodegradable plastic mulches for US specialty crop production by JR Goldberger, RE Jones, CA Miles… – … Agriculture and Food …, 2015 – cambridge.org
Living Mulches in vegetable crops production: perspectives and limitations (A reviev). by E Kołota, K Adamczewska-Sowińska – Acta Scientiarum Polonorum …, 2013 – cabdirect.org
Reflective film mulches influences insect control and yield in vegetables. by JM Schalk, CS Creighton, RL Fery… – Journal of American …, 1979 – cabdirect.org
Effect of different plastic mulches on growth and yield of winter tomato by B Singh, M Kumar, GC Singh – Indian Journal of Horticulture, 2005 – indianjournals.com
Mulch It!: A Practical Guide to Using Mulch in the Garden and Landscape by S Campbell – 2012 – books.google.com
Cover crops and living mulches by NL Hartwig, HU Ammon – Weed science, 2002 – BioOne