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Updated: May 16, 2022

Organic farmyard compost on veg bed
Preparing a raised veg bed with organic farmyard compost.

What is Mulching?

A mulch is a layer of material spread over bare soil that protects it from the elements and adds important nutrients. Adding a layer of mulch is very important for the health of the garden and we recommend using organic, peat free, green waste compost or manure. You can also use a combination of the two. Take care not to mistake multi-purpose compost for pure organic material compost as this usually contains soil too. Basically you want the ones that are pure poop or green waste.

When you mulch, the nutrients make their way down into the soil where they get to work and do loads of good things.

  • They help feed the micro-organisms in the soil that in turn assists the plants to take up nutrients, creating healthy flourishing plants.

  • It improves the texture of the soil. For instance, if you have a high amount of clay in your soil, the manure and compost will break it up to improve drainage and aeration. If you have a high sand content, the mulch will add nutrients that otherwise get washed away.

  • Preserves the soil moisture in hot weather.

  • Stops soil erosion in heavy rains.

  • Insulates plant roots against late frosts

  • By covering the soil and stopping light, it prevents existing weed seeds from germinating saving you a job later in the spring.

  • It makes your garden look nice and healthy.

  • And the worms love it.

When should I mulch?

It’s a good idea to mulch towards the end of winter or when you start to see bulbs breaking through the soil. This will give your soil lots of nutrients just as your garden is waking up, and will last over the growing season. It also gives you a chance to go through your garden to inspect plants, to prune and tidy, and it leaves your beds looking lovely! If you mulch at the beginning of winter, a lot of the nutrients will have washed away in the rains before they are able to used by your plants as they will be dormant over winter.

So How do I mulch?

Remove any perennial weeds you can see, then apply around 5-10cm of mulch to the garden beds over the bare soil and around the plants. At the base of woody plants do not pile up the mulch around the stems as this can cause the stem to rot. Give them approx 5cm space and they will be most appreciative. Take care to not cover any herbaceous plants you have cut down.

How can I get my hands on some mulch?

All garden centres should sell some form of compost and there are a few specialist compost centres where you can arrange collection or delivery. There are a few different types to choose from and they come in a range of different stinks. The animal or stable composts tending to be a wee bit riper (some are just vile) as you can imagine, but you can't really go too wrong with any of them and the important thing is to get them in your garden. We guarantee that you and your plants will reap the rewards.

Happy Mulching!

Jake and Karen

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