Keeping the garden bed warm in winter is just as important as wearing your own jumper. It’s cold without! Your plants feeding roots are close to the surface and the constant changes in temperature of the soil throughout the day create more work for the plant to protect itself. Cool mornings have been breaking to hot days this winter at home. Here in Auckland I haven’t needed to pull on a sweater during the day but come evening the fire is roaring so we mustn’t forget the gardens need for a bit of warmth this July too. I’m boasting now but I still have some Capsicums on the plants planted in spring last year in the veggie patch and some Long John green climbing beans which self seeded are now bearing baby beans even to my surprise that will be ready to pick in a few weeks. I know the extended harvest season is due to my mulch that is resting beneath all the plants to keep the soil warmer which means I’ve also been able to do some sneaky fancy lettuce planting right next to my winter broad beans. I wouldn’t go as far to bothering with tomatoes outside, they definitely need cover at this time of year but your garden growing timing can be certainly extended by adding a layer of warmth through mulch.
Mulching the garden mid season will also keep those sneaky weeds at bay when the weather warms in early spring. When I was young in frosty Central Hawkes Bay my Mum never mulched – she liked to weed?? Not for me thanks, I’m happier with them at bay and a good mulch of 7cm will save time with weeding and is the right amount to keep your garden warm for sure.
The veggie garden always looks so nice with a fresh layer of Pea and Lucerne hay which I buy by the bag at my local Palmers. One 40L bag puffs up double in size when laid out on the soil which is great buying value. The nitrogen in the Pea and Lucerne helps feed the soil and is also great when used as mulch around the roses. I prefer a rough bark mulch dress up the flower and shrub ornamental garden and can be purchased in bulk from your local store or by the bag for convenience. For mothers day hubby and the kids cut in and planted me a beautiful flower and berry fruit garden that snakes around my herb spiral so I have my own sitting place for a quiet cuppa. Lucky for hubby he thought of finishing off with a good mulch laid nice and thick so my present didn’t become a burden for me… or him to maintain!
Deciding whether you’re after a weed mat covering before applying mulch is a personal choice. I like to let the soil breathe and was pleased to find a fabric weed mat by the roll recently in store at Palmers. The fabric allows the soil to breathe and keeps microbial activity going. The quantity requirement for a bark mulch is less when using a mat and I think is a must to weed mat first when using stones as a mulch in the garden or the battle of the weed may only be successfully met with some organic weed spray intervention. I was happy to line the floor of my herb spiral with weed mat first before hubby constructed the walls and one year on from when it was created I still don’t have any problems with kikuyu grass coming through to the planted bed.
Get mulch on the garden now; it’s not just a pretty finisher it’ll help your garden grow at its best and demand far less maintenance so you can enjoy doing other things!