May 07, 2010 | 6:05 am
Each new day, we say good morning to the sun, slip on our flip flops and scope out the garden. Mostly for the joy of it, but also to see if there have been any critters chomping, insects invading, nutrient deficiencies or moisture issues. Our daily observations create a ritual we all look forward to with the bonus of keeping our garden healthy and growing. Recently, the girls were excited to help with our first harvest of the season, rhubarb and lettuce. The first harvest is quite rewarding and nibbling in the garden is accepted! I enjoyed the transformation of their faces as they chewed on a stalk of rhubarb; priceless.
I am always looking for ways to save money and save time! Of course, gardening is a great way to save on the grocery budget. A packet of tomato seed costs far less than a pound of tomatoes. Definitely a topic I will cover in a future blog. This blog is about saving TIME…in the garden.
Weeding and watering require the most attention in our garden. The best way to battle both is to add mulch! Summer is full of activity and I would never be able to keep up with my weeding without mulch. Weeds also rob our plants of nutrients and water.
Mulching is nothing more than covering the soil with a protective material. Mulch does three things for us: reduces weed growth, holds moisture and cools soil temperatures. If you use organic-material mulch it will decompose and add nutrients to the soil. For the past three years, I have used a combination of newspaper and straw in my vegetable beds. This has worked very well for me, it’s cheap and effective.
Watch the video below to see how I do this.
(Feedreaders: Click through to watch the video)
Types of mulches:
1. Hay or Straw
2. Grass clippings (dry clippings; avoid grass that has been treated with herbicide)
3. Dried leaves
5. Black plastic
7. Red plastic (I have not seen this product in the garden centers, but recent research shows a 20% boost in tomato yields)
The type of mulch you use will depend on availability. I have to thank my neighbor for getting me started using straw. He uses it to bed his dogs in the winter and gives me the leftover bales in the spring (have I mentioned how wonderful my neighbors are?).
Here are a few guidelines for mulching:
1. Mulch when plants are 4 to 6 inches tall.
2. Remove any weeds in the garden before applying.
3. Water garden before applying mulch.
4. Keep mulch an inch away from the plant stem.
5. If using plastic or newspaper, it is good to add a 2 to 4 layer of organic mulch on top.
6. After adding mulch, water. This will help hold the mulch in place.
I am a big advocate for mulch and believe you will see the benefits too! Now, if I could only find a way to save time when doing laundry! Happy mulching!