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The Benefits of Deep Mulching Your Garden

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Houston we have a weed problem

weedy garden

That my friends is a whole lot of weeds.  Now you can spend hours digging, tilling, pulling and sweating or you can smother the little buggers with some mulch.  I mean who really wants to spend time sweating in the garden when you could sit back and relax and just watch your garden grow.  To help clarify what exactly deep mulching is I will be throwing some pro's and con's at you along with a basic method on how to create successful deep mulching.    

Pro's of Deep Mulching

The pro's of deep mulching are many and very useful.  For starters you have the obvious benefits of,

  • weed suppression
  • no hot sweaty labor

But there are many other side benefits that don't come across as obvious at first glance you have,

  • better moisture retention in the soil
  • adding organic matter and nutrients to the soil
  • proving habitat for beneficial soil organisms e.g. worms
  • looks better than bare dirt
  • watering is easier
  • no mud when you are working in the garden
  • can plant right away in spring, no tilling needed

With the benefits of deep mulching it is hard to believe that there is actually any detractors at all but alas there are a few.

Con's of Deep Mulching

It can be a fair amount of work in its own right.  In order to successfully use deep mulching you have to be able to source enough material to cover your garden space.  This can be tricky sometimes depending on where you live, what resources you have available to you and how ambitious you are in your mulching practices.  Another thing to take into consideration is what may be on the material you are adding to your garden.

Take lawn clippings for example; if you source lawn grass from an area that has been heavily sprayed with pesticides or herbicides you could accidentally be adding harmful chemical to your garden.  This in turn could affect your gardening success and what you are able to grow for years to come.  

One of the other con's to deep mulching is also ironically one of the pro's to the system as well.  Since you so handily providing a home for beneficial organisms you can also provide a home for harmful one like nematodes and slugs which can decimate a crop very quickly.


Getting Started With Deep Mulching

Garden with Cardboard Weed Barrier

Now there are as many ways and materials to use to start deep mulching as there are gardeners out there.  One of the most common methods that I am familiar with is as follows,

  1.  Start with a weed free or very small weed garden bed that is loose and friable.
  2. Take brown corrugated cardboard that is free of staples, glues and tape and lay on the garden bed wherever you will not be planting crops.
  3. Cover the cardboard at least 12 inches, but you can go up to 24 inches deep with an assortment of mulching materials. (straw, leaves, grass clippings etc.).
  4. Water the area heavily and let sit for anywhere from 2-4 weeks before planting.  
  5. After the mulch has cooled from its first composting session you are now free to plant your garden.
  6. Maintain the mulch thickness by adding material as needed.

Deep mulching can be a very useful tool in any gardeners tool bag.  It comes with many benefits and just a few detractors and can be a great addition to your gardening regime.  If you give this method a try let me know how is works for you so we can continue to learn more about deep mulching and whether it is effective in your particular area.

Gardening Without Work: For the Aging, the Busy & the Indolent
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(price as of Apr 13, 2014)
Considered the prophet and bible of no work gardening and deep mulching this book by Ruth Stout will show in greater detail the successes she had for years with deep mulching in her personal gardens.


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  1. "Friable." Merriam Webster Dictionary. 10/04/2014 <Web >
  2. "Year-Round Organic Mulch: An Almost Labor-Free Garden." Mother Earth News. 10/04/2014 <Web >
  3. "Deep-mulch transforms garden into edible landscape." Agriview. 10/04/2014 <Web >

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