Contributed by Brian McGinn
The answer to whether or not to mulch your garden beds is simply…YES! Adding a layer of mulch to your garden does many things: enhances soil nutrition by adding nutrients as it decomposes (reducing the need for fertilizers), reduces the amount of water that evaporates from your soil (reducing the need to water), acts as an insulating layer on top of soil (which keeps soil warmer in winter andcooler in summer) and also keeps weeds down; and the weeds that do grow are much easier to pull (less tedious work! and less need for herbicides).
But few of us think about these scientific reasons for mulching. In practice, we like the “finished” look that it gives our garden beds. You may like a particular color of mulch – brown, red, black. For others, it is a “texture” thing. We are just used to seeing bark mulch with its chunks and particles as a foil for the drama of the plants. At CD & Co., we recommend natural pine bark mulches that have not been color enhanced or artificially dyed. But more and more we are turning to leaf mulch. It means altering your aesthetic vision of a “well mulched bed”.
If you are in the woods and push away an area of leaves, underneath you’ll discover a layer of a crumbly brown material with a very pleasant and earthy scent…this is nature’s leaf mold. Leaf Mold or Leaf Mulch is a naturally occurring product made from partially composted leaves that have been shredded. Shredding the leaves in the fall allows them to compost more quickly due to increased surface area for fungi to do their work. The result is mulch that has a rich brown color with a texture very different than bark mulch. It is more finely textured and uniform than bark mulch.
I remember my first garden experience working with leaf mold. The garden had benefitted from a yearly layer and the beds were bursting with amazingly vigorous plants that needed no extra fertilizer and required limited weeding. Aesthetically, it may look different but it’s well worth the benefits to your garden!
We have great local suppliers of quality leaf mold. Let us amp up your garden for a new look.