My garden has been looking awful for about six months now. Apart from a healthy-looking crop of garlic and a few straggling kale and volunteer lettuce plants, it's been nothing but bare soil, weeds and clutter. This weekend, I decided it was time to fix it. And was once again reminded of just how much one simple act can change your vegetable garden for the better:
Typically, when we talk about mulch, we focus on the fact that it keeps down weeds and helps prevent evaporation from the soil. In actual fact, however, there's a lot more going on than that. Here's just a taste of what mulch can do for you:
—Prevent evaporation and reduce the need for watering (I know, we said that, but it's important)
—Protect soil structure and prevent soil erosion which, guess what, helps soil retain more moisture!
—Add organic matter as mulch slowly decays which, guess what, also helps soil retain more moisture!
—Protect soil biodiversity by keeping it out of the baking sun
—Oh, and yes it does keep the weeds down too
Add to that the fact that a nice, thick layer of mulch can make your garden stop looking awful and, as a committed Lazivore, I am more convinced than ever that mulching is probably the single most important thing that an organic gardener can do. My mulch of choice? Pine straw. It's cheap, local (here in the Southeast), and doesn't involve chopping down trees. And no, it won't acidify your soil. Rotted leaves are also a good alternative, if you happen to have them.
So if, like me, you've been plagued by inaction in your veggie garden, make a commitment next weekend: Weed, mulch, and then get back to whatever delicious laziness you were prioritizing instead of gardening.