Dear Ol' Man Nonno, I've always heard that mulching is important in the garden, but it looks like a bit of a hassle. Am I just covering up some weeds? What are the benefits of mulching?
-Alice, Coffin Bay
Hi Alice, thanks for your letter. Many people may think of mulching as a quick way of covering up a mess of weeds in the garden - like throwing all your books, clothes, and shoes in a cupboard and slamming the door shut - but it is more than just a cover up. Mulching fulfils a multitude of important roles.
Mulching’s CV reads like this:
I suppress weed growth;
I help retain moisture;
I regulate soil temperature;
As I break down I provide nutritional benefit to the plants
Mulch, by definition, could be rocks or bark, but for the veggie patch we prefer to use pea straw, lucerne hay or sugar cane mulch, which all provide quicker and more meaningful nutritional benefit for your plants as they break down. They are also responsible for the gravitational pull of worms from beneath the soil, bringing you powerful and dedicated garden allies.
When mulching use a product that is easy to handle. Big and roughly chopped bales of straw are more suitable for farm-scale spaces rather than your pots and veggie patch, so opt for a pulverised, finer grade. A step further is using heat treated mulching pellets that then expand to full size when hydrated. This also doubles up a low-grade party trick for visitors.
For an easy, dust-free mulch option, try Major's Mulch