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Mulch_Cover Up weeds Protecting Efficient

Polythene, fleece or Strulch garden mulch are all materials that can be used to create a mulch.

Strulch Garden Mulch , a wheat straw based mulch that controls weeds in vegetable plots.  

Porous hose for seeping small but constant amounts of water into the soil.

Budding Gardener Childrens Tools to dig the mulch in

Childrens Gardening Gloves for mulching

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Why Mulch?

Mulching is essential for all vegetable growing. The aim is to decrease the amount of water that evaporates from the soil and also to make it harder for weeds to grow.  Mulching can also help against slugs.  

How To Mulch

To do this it is essential to put down a barrier around the plants and cover the soil. This barrier is called a mulch. There are a number of different mulches which can be used. The choice depends on cost, the amount of space involved and how decorative you want the mulch to be.

So What Materials Can Be Used As Mulches?

  • Bark chips and cocoa shell are effective mulches. A 5cm (2”) layer will prevent most weeds from growing. These are best used for containers as they look decorative, or around crops which are going to be in place for a long time such as fruit bushes, strawberries or fruit trees.

  • Black polythene. This is best used when planting lots of young plants that have been grown in seed trays or pots. It will prevent weeds growing but watering will need to be done very carefully to make sure that plants get the water they need. It may help to put a seep hose in place before the mulch is laid. Position the hose so that the seep holes are where the plants will be placed.

  • When using, it is important to soak the area completely, then place the plastic in position.  Fasten it down with pegs or heavy stones. Cut cross wise slits in the surface at regular intervals. Fold back the material around the slits. This will expose the earth underneath. Dig a hole and put the young plant in.  Water thoroughly.

  • Grass clippings - these can be piled around the young plants to a depth of around 10 -15cms (4” – 6”). They will rot down eventually and can then be dug into the soil. Some weeding will be necessary as they do contain seeds.

  • Mulch mats  - these are  squares of material with a hole in the middle which can be placed around vulnerable plants such as strawberries, lettuces and cabbages. These mats need to be fixed down with stones as they can be blown away in high winds. The mats will help protect crops from dirt and keeps lower leaves clean. They can help deter slugs. Covering mats or polythene with even a thin layer of earth may encourage some annual weeds to grow on it. It will need light hoeing at regular intervals. Before mulching, make sure that the soil around the plants is thoroughly soaked.

  • Floating mulches are plastic or fleecy films - these are not true mulches as they do not inhibit weeds. These are mainly used to warm the soil before planting. Young crops can be covered with the film to give some protection against light frosts. If the edges are well sealed down, it can also protect against pests like carrot fly and cabbage white butterflies.
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