What are you doing with all the grass clippings from your lawn? Did you know you can turn them into mulch for your vegetable garden that will add nutrients and improve your soil? A mulch is a layer of material spread on the garden to shade the ground completely. It prevents weeds from growing by depriving them of sunlight. It holds moisture in the soil by reducing evaporation. The soil stays cooler on hot days and warmer on cool nights. It also protects soil from compaction and erosion.
The two basic kinds of mulch are organic and inorganic. Organic mulches include formerly living material such as chopped leaves, straw, weed-free hay, grass clippings, compost, and even paper. Don’t pull hay or straw up to the stems of vegetables or you’ll invite slug and rodent damage. Inorganic mulches include gravel, stones, black plastic and landscape fabrics.
Both types discourage weeds, but organic mulches also improve the soil as they decompose. Inorganic mulches don’t break down and enrich the soil, but under certain circumstances they are the mulch of choice. For example, black plastic warms the soil and radiates heat during the night, keeping heat-loving vegetables cozy and vigorous.
There are two rules for using organic mulches to combat weeds: First, be sure to lay the mulch down on soil that is already weeded, and second, use a thick enough layer to discourage new weeds from coming up through it. It can take a 4- to 6-inch layer of mulch to completely discourage weeds, although a 2- to 3-inch layer is usually enough in shady spots, where weeds aren’t as troublesome as they are in full sun.
An important thing to remember when using grass clippings, is be sure they are dry before spreading on the garden, otherwise wet grass gets slimy and foul-smelling. Fallen leaves can be easily prepared as a mulch by using a lawn mower with a bagger. These sources can be obtained from neighbors who do not have gardens.
For more details about the benefits of mulching, read about it in gardening books or on websites. I just wanted to inform you of the benefits of mulching to make your vegetable gardening soil healthier.