Mulch Vegetable Gardens – Bigger Harvest, Less Weeds, Less Water, Less Disease

Mulching vegetable gardens is one of the best ways to make it better – in so many ways. Mulching is a way to be kind to your plants – and help yourself to make gardening easier throughout the season. This is because, once you mulch, you instantly reduce weeds in your garden (less work), reduce the amount of water needed (less money/resources), and help reduce pests in the garden.

There are basically two types of mulch – inorganic and organic. Inorganic mulch includes newspapers, plastic solar mulch and landscape fabric, While these work, they do not provide all the benefits of organic mulches because they do not enrich the soil. Organic mulches include grass clippings, leaves, straw, pine needles and wood chip mulch. Let’s take a look at some benefits of using organic mulch.

Mulching for Bigger Harvests

If you want a bigger harvest, then mulch vegetable gardens. This may seem rather simplistic – but sometimes the simplest things make the most difference. Mulching accomplishes many things. When you mulch deep – that is, at least six inches, you will ensure that the soil stays at a temperature that is better for the roots to soak up nutrients. That is, in cold weather mulch maintains warmth and in warm weather it maintains cooler temperatures. If you live in the hot south, during the summer, this can make a huge difference in harvests. When you mulch vegetable gardens, it is also beneficial for weed control, disease control, moisture control and pest control.

Mulching to Reduce Weeds

Let’s face it – who wants weeds in their garden? They look ugly – and if you are not careful, the weeds can easily take over the garden wiping out any veggies you have planted. Weeds are bad because they aggressively compete with the same stuff your plants need to grow well: nutrients, water and sunlight. Thus, when they invade and take over your garden, they can suck up everything your plants need to produce an outstanding harvest. While some say that a weed is just a plant that is growing where you don’t want it to grow, the garden is definitely one place you want to eliminate weeds.

Mulch helps prevent weeds in three important ways. First, when you completely cover the soil with mulch, you deprive the weed seeds of the sunlight that they need to germinate So, weeds won’t get a foothold in the garden early on. In addition, bare dirt allows weed seeds to land and then germinate. Covering your bare soil prevents the weeds from coming into contact with the soil to begin with. But, weeds are persistent beasties and some will show up anyway. I have also found that weeds that show up in the mulch are easier to see and much easier to pull out because they don’t have strong roots in the soil but are growing in the loose mulch. Reducing weeds is not the only benefit of mulch – they also

Mulching to Reduce Bad Bugs

Organic mulches are the best repelling bugs. One way they do this is by enriching the soil. As organic mulches break down, the chemistry of the soil is improved and this increases the beneficial bacteria, fungus and insects. Beneficial – or good insects keep out the populations of harmful, plant-destroying, harvest destroying insects.

While some organic mulches attract insects like saw bugs, earwigs or pill bugs, if needed, these can be easily controlled with Neem oil or diatomaceous earth. Another effective and non-pesticide way to get rid of pill bugs is to make a potato trap. To do this,

  1. Cut an old potato in half.
  2. Scoop out a depression in each half.
  3. Place the cut side of the potato into the soil where you have pill bugs.
  4. Wait a few days for the pill bugs to find the potatoes and start eating them
  5. After a few days, carefully lift up your potato – in the morning is the best time to do this. Drop the pill bugs attached to the potato in a bucket and scoop up the dirt around the area to find even more bugs. Feed to chickens (yum) or dispose of away from your garden.

If you are using mulches made from cedar or cypress bark, they are helpful for repelling insects. Cedar and cypress wood both contain natural oils and chemicals that deter bugs. Cedar chips can repel, kill or can inhibit termites, cockroaches, cloth-eating moths, carpet beetles and certain ants, such as odorous and Argentine. The wood bark from these trees is resistant to decay, so it will last longer than other mulches. Cedar mulch is especially good for plants that love acidic soil – such as blueberries.

Mulching to Reduce Watering

For an abundant garden, it is important to maintain a consistent level of moisture in your soil. Plants which have adequate moisture are less likely to be stressed and they will be better able to resist insects and diseases. As mentioned earlier, mulch keeps the soil cooler in the summer so it will extend the time before plants go dormant or bolt. Since some plants bloom best in cooler conditions, mulch helps keep plants blooming longer.

In areas which have had drought conditions, mulching is almost necessary to maintain a healthy garden. But, even in areas with plenty of water, mulching helps to retain soil moisture and consistent soil temperatures, thus costing the gardener less money.

Mulching to Enrich Soil for Next Year

The biggest bonus to using organic mulches is that they will decompose and leave behind nutrient rich soil for next year’s garden. As it decomposes, mulch provides nutrients and humus and improves the soil structure, nutrients and moisture holding capacity. The decomposing mulch provides food for earthworms, stimulates microbial activity and helps beneficial soil organisms.

In the area I live, the soil is rich red clay – that is beautiful to look at and the devil to grow in. In most cases, I have resorted to using raised beds. Slowly but surely, though, I have begun uber-mulching large portions of future growing areas with deep wood chip mulch. I have found that not only does it tend to keep the weeds at bay, it is also enriching the soil and improving the composition of the soil each season. I can now dig down about four inches and have rich, dark soil that the earth worms are loving. In a few years, I will be able to move into those growing areas without the use (and expense) of raised beds.

Organic Mulch in Your Garden – Better for your Harvest and the World

As you can probably tell, I am not much for the use of herbicides and pesticides. I think the world is a better place when as few chemicals as possible are used. So, for those who agree, it is critical to find ways to improve your soil and keep pests away as expediently as possible. And for this, I say, mulch your gardens. Gardeners use both organic and inorganic mulches. While I have used both, I have found for my red clay dirt, the inorganic mulch works better because it enriches the soil each season. Whether you select organic or inorganic mulch, once you use it in your garden, you will never go without again.

 

 

 

Gardening Gifts for Women – Great Glove Ideas for Digging in the Dirt

Gift basketEveryone loves to receive presents, and women who love to garden are no different. Sometimes, giving a gift can be a stressful experience for the giver. As you are trying to find the perfect gift, you may wonder, “Will she like it, will she use it, will she hate it, will she just throw it away or tuck it in the closet?” Let’s face it, we all want our gifts to be appreciated and loved – yes and used.

Luckily, gloves are a great gift idea for any gardener. You will find that it can be very easy to find one or more pairs of gloves your lady will love to receive and will use over and over. Kind of like shoes, a gardener can never have enough gloves. Even when a gardener has a favorite pair, a gift of several different types of gloves would be appreciated as well. Many styles and types of gloves can be found in all price ranges. And if you want to add a more personal touch, you can include gloves with an assortment of other items in a wondering gardening gift basket. Let’s take a look at some gift glove ideas.

Gardening Gifts for Digging in the Dirt

Gloves are an obvious choice for gift-giving. While women usually don’t wear gloves socially anymore, they certainly are needed in the garden. Dare I say again, a gardener can never have too many gloves. There are many ways to look at purchasing gloves. Your gardener may have a favorite pair of gloves and in that case, you can simply find out what it is and buy her an extra pair.

Why buy an extra pair when she already has a favorite? While some gloves may last a long time, they will all eventually wear out when usedOld gloves over and over. They deteriorate from exposure to the sun, from friction as the fingertips are being rubbed against the ground and weeds, and from exposure to water or punctures. If you have a Labrador puppy like the one dropped off at our gate, they also can be ruined by enthusiastic chewing. So, if your gardener really likes a certain brand of gloves, they will always be happy to have one waiting for them when the old and tattered glove no longer protects their hands.

Gloves for Gardening with Friends and Family

Many women like to garden with their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and even friends visiting. Yes, gardening is indeed a great form of bonding, communication and fun. It is always nice to have extra pairs of gloves set aside for visitors – so a selection of gloves in various sizes and styles is always nice to have around.

For the extra personal touch, you can even try out a pair of the gloves by offering to help dig in the gardener with her when you give her the present. Not only will she have a wonderful gift that enables her to share gardening with others, she will have a wonderful day full of memories with you sharing work in her garden. This would truly be a gift that would be remembered.

Some different types of gloves are discussed below.

Nitrile Gloves for Gifting

Lavendar nitrile glovesDifferent types of gardening require different types of gloves. Even with a favorite pair of gloves, gardeners have varying needs when digging in the dirt. Nitrile gloves have become very popular lately for gardening. These gloves are generally made of a thin fabric-like material on top that is coated with a flexible coating of nitrile on the palms and bottom of the fingers. This nitrile coating gives the gloves extra grip that is very handy for pulling up weeds. They are lightweight but can be pretty tough in preventing punctures and even some small thorns.

Plus, these nitrile gloves come in a wide array of bright, happy colors and designs for gardeners – often with flowers and butterflies worked into the design. (How do they do that?) Even better, nitrile gloves can be thrown in the washer to clean them after use. These gloves are relatively inexpensive and having several extras on hand would make any gardener smile. They would be a good choice if getting an assortment of gloves for visitors to use.

Gift Gloves that Protect

Practical gardening gifts for women include gloves that go above and beyond in protection. While nitrile gloves can resist some punctures and thorns, they are not hardy enough for working with roses and other thorny plants. Plus, when working with thorny plants, the gardener often gets scratches and punctures on the arms as well as the hands and fingers. Some gauntlet or long-armed gloves will be the best gift you can get any gardener because they not only do a super job of preventing punctures, they also provide that protection up to the elbow. No more tears as your gardener is reaching through the rose bush to prune it, or in my case, grabbing the evil, thorny Greenbrier vines to pull them out of trees.

In addition to gauntlet gloves, you can also purchase Kevlar arm protection sleeves to wear under any gloves. These arm protection sleeves are generally about 18 inches long and have a thumb slot to hold them in place. These sleeves will provide an extra layer of protection most of the way up the arm.

Gloves with extra padding can also be a welcome gift to any gardener. I found this out when I injured my thenar eminence muscles in my hand. That is a big name but they are group of muscles on the palm of the human hand at the base of the thumb. In essence, it hurts when you use your thumb and in gardening – you would be surprised how much you actually need to use your thumb. High performance gardening gloves are now made with extra foam padding in the palm and knuckles to alleviate some pain caused from using the thumb repetitively.

Unique Gardening Gift – Clawed Gloves

Another unique gardening gift for women would be the glove with built-in or removable claws on the finger tips. OK, a great idea for Halloween costumes – I can just see the Evil Gardener costume being a real hit this year. But, these gloves are very handy for digging in the dirt to pull out weeds and leaves without having to switch over and use a hand tool. They have a breathable design that protects the hands without becoming hot and uncomfortable. This just might be a small gift for the gardener who has everything.

Gardening Gifts for Women – A Bushel of Gloves

Who would have thought that you could find a treasure-trove of gifts for women simply by looking for gloves? But, while seemingly a practical idea, glove-giving can also be whimsical and thoughtful. And very much appreciated by the gardener. To jazz it up a bit, you can give the gloves in a gift basket you create along with special essential oil soap for gardeners, a soothing hand lotion, a loofah and a nail scrubber.

These thoughtful and useful gifts will be treasured, used and remembered by your special gardener for years.