Last week, I had 40 bags of organic bark mulch delivered. Mulching is, for me, one of the most pleasant garden tasks I can think of. It’s instantly gratifying, beautifying, and I love the smell of a freshly mulched garden.
When I lived in Massachusetts, I always mulched my garden in late Spring and in mid-Autumn and I suspect that this will be my routine here in Brooklyn as well. In early Spring, I pull back the mulch from the previous Autumn to allow the soil to warm up and to prepare it for planting. Once I have worked the soil or installed the new plantings, I apply new garden mulch to conserve soil moisture through the dry Summer months.
Autumn mulching allows the soil to retain heat over the Winter, giving a higher starting temperature in the new season. It also protects the soil from Winter precipitation and erosion.
Many folks balk at a 2 times a year process, but the advantages of mulching regularly are many:
· Keeps the garden beds looking clean and attractive
· Reduces water loss and conserves moisture in the soil during Summer
· Keeps soil surface and plant roots cool in Summer
· Helps retain warmth in the soil over the Winter for earlier Spring growth
· Organic mulches break down to fertilize and condition the soil
· Encourages earthworm activity which itself improves drainage and fertility
I’ve never been a big fan of inorganic mulches such as plastic sheets, gravel, rubber and stone. They don’t break down and some, like plastic, are not permeable and does not allow oxygen to reach the soil. Gravel and rubber get messy and end up all over paths and steps.