How to - Gardening Basics

Protect your garden with mulch

Here’s the dirt on every gardener’s best friend—mulch

Bark or wood chips
Available shredded or in small or large chips; excellent under trees and shrubs; use small or finely shredded bark chips or cedar mulch for flower gardens.

Cocoa bean hulls
Good for flowerbeds; smells like chocolate, but scent fades quickly; can get mouldy if applied thicker than five centimetres; toxic if ingested by pets.

Grass clippings
When fresh, they have a high moisture and nitrogen content and can become smelly if layered too thickly, so apply 2.5 to five centimetres thick; avoid using when grass is going to seed, or you will have a grassy weed problem.

Fall leaves
Use as winter mulch or save in bags for spring mulching of shrubs and flowerbeds.

Straw
Excellent for vegetable gardens or as winter mulch; don’t use hay, which may contain weed seeds.

Resources
Secrets to Great Soil: A Growers Guide to Composting, Mulching, and Creating Healthy, Fertile Soil for Your Garden and Lawn by Elizabeth Stell, Storey Publishing, 224 pages, softcover, $25.95.

The Composting Council of Canada has a helpful website: www.compost.org/mulchingpr.html.

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