Now that our hottest weather is almost upon us, gardeners should consider the many benefits of mulching:
- Reduces the temperature of the soil
- Maintains the moisture level of the soil
- Improves infiltration of irrigation and rainfall
- Softens hard clay soils
- Reduces the amount of water needed for sandy soils
- Helps control weeds
- Discourages soil-borne plant diseases
Mulching is simply the placing of a layer of organic or inorganic material on top of the soil. Two to four inches of organic materials, twice a year, is recommended for most garden and landscape plants. Organic mulch will decompose, but it can then be turned into the soil to help improve its structure.
Mulch can also be applied in the vegetable garden between rows and then turned under after the growing season. However, one vegetable that shouldn’t be mulched is asparagus!
Grady Bedinger, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service