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As we are past the shortest day of the year and the days are getting longer, although it doesn’t seem like it at the moment, now is the time you should be planning how to improve the soil in your garden. This is where mulching comes in.
Mulching involves putting loose coverings around plants in your garden and you have a wide variety and choice of biodegradable as well as non-biodegradable materials to choose from. Straw, compost, wood chippings from the work in your garden shed and even seaweed will help to replace nutrients lost from the soil.
Alternatively you can use plastic sheeting (available in sizes from 18X12), gravel or stone chips and these will help to keep in the moisture in the ground and will keep weeds at bay. These actions will help improve the texture of the soil and will deter garden bugs and pests.
It will also help to protect your garden plants from the extreme temperatures experienced over winter. It is possible to store your plants in your garden shed but you would need to ensure you keep them moist during this time.
Another item which is really good for the garden is well rotted manure, which can be quite stinky and not that pleasant. This can be bought from your local farm or from garden centres. As the manure rots it provides your plants with vital nutrients.
I would advise using strong rubber gloves when handling to ensure that the smell does not follow you around. Bark is another good mulch and one of my favourites. It is available in different grades with some being ornamental in appearance and some in more minute sizes which rots a lot quicker.
However, it is important that the stems of small trees and bushes are not covered as this action can make them susceptible to disease and rot. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) recommends for the best results to only use biodegradable materials such as straw, compost etc and ideally should be about 3 inches thick and should be laid over the ground whilst it is still moist.
This will hold in the moisture to benefit your plants. You can buy straw and store it in your 18 x12 shed so that it is available as and when required.
There are different opinions as to when your should do the mulching and late winter and early spring tends to be the best time, although literally any time of the year will help for different reasons. There is universal agreement that mulching is good for the garden and that if you have the opportunity then you should make the most of it.
Do you mulch your garden? Do you store mulching materials in your shed or outdoors? What do you consider the best thing to mulch with?