Questions And Answers On Vegetable Garden Mulch

Steve asks…

when is the best time to mulch vegetable garden?

I want to start off a vegetable garden and dont know whether to mulch after sowing the seed or when the seedlings appear.

Home Gardener answers:

Hummm, I would mulch when I have the permanent plants to a height where I could mulch and not cover them or crush them by accident. Most direct seed sowing is for things like lettuce or beets and things like that and then you thin them. After that they take a while to get big enough to surround by mulch. I use straw not hay because it is cheap, not acidic and makes the soil lighter and breaks down well as well as lets the rain in and keeps weeds down. Hay is not good, it has a lot of seeds in it and can be bad for your back lol. Good luck.

Charlie asks…

Can I use dyed black mulch in my vegetable garden?

I’m trying to figure out if the same black triple-shredded mulch I use for the flower beds would have any effects on my vegetable plants. Anyone know if there are harmful chemicals in the dye they use or the process they use to make the mulch?

Home Gardener answers:

I don’t know about any threat from chemicals leaching ito the soil but the black mulch will increase the soil temperature. Right now, that’s a point of concern here in Los Angeles with our heat wave. From fall to spring, that would not be a bad thing. But I can’t help regarding the dye and what it’s made from.

Good luck.

Jemima asks…

are there any dangers with using dyed mulch in your vegetable garden?

i was tired of the soil drying out so i added red mulch ,is ther any danger to my vegetables or me from the dye?

Home Gardener answers:

Nope no danger at all i have it in my garden and everything is growing well i also have the red

Helena asks…

best mulch for vegetable garden?

Vegetables include broccoli, spinach, cabbage, capsicum and tomatoes. All established and growing well.

Home Gardener answers:

I’d have to disagree with both. My experience with both compost and straw has not been good. Many times you find compost with weed seeds in it. Straw often has to sit for several months for all the weed killers to wash out of it, and then it is often full of nutgrass seeds.
My best cheap mulch has been newspapers with a topping of garden soil to hold it down. If you’re not cheap, order the paper mulches from a garden supply outlet. The red ones are supposed to work wonders for Tomatoes.

Mark asks…

What’s the best mulch for a vegetable garden?

I’ll probably have a little bit of the most common stuff–tomatoes, peppers, beans.


Home Gardener answers:

While wood chips, sawdust and pine straw are good for a flower bed, don’t use them in your vegetable patch. They all can harbor insects, are high acid and the main disadvantage is that when they start to break down (rot) the process will rob much needed nitrogen from the soil. Compost, rotted barnyard manure, old hardwood leaves, sphagnum moss, hay and straw all work well for veggies.

Wayne asks…

should I mulch my vegetable garden?

I live in new england. Growing a organic veg garden this summer. should I put down mulch to help with weed control and retain heat and moisture? If so, what should I use? i don’t want to use commercial bark much because of the added chemicals and dyes. What do you use?

Home Gardener answers:

With the exception of clear plastic (which warms the soil), mulch cools the soil but it does preserve moisture. Grass clippings and compost are a good organic mulch. They are relatively high in nitrogen, so they don’t need extra. Wood chips, bark, and leaves are good for mulch, but they tax the decomposition capacity of the soil. Vegetables will not get enough nitrogen as a result of too much organic material. Depending on the decomposition level, add enough nitrogen fertilizer to compensate for the added organic material. Forgive me if I don’t speak strictly organic language. I’m hybrid in my gardening techniques. I use the developments along with the experience of the ages.

I use grass clippings, peat moss,”Nutrimulch” (wood shavings and turkey manure), cow maunure, kitchen-waste compost, wood bark, and chips, depending on availability. I add NPK fertilizer to boost growth and decomposition of organic matter. I till vines and stalks into the soil as early as possible to provide food for microbes and earthworms. And I get big yields of delicious vegetables: peas, beans, carrots, tomatoes, onions, garlic, parsley, herbs of all sorts, flowers, potatoes, and squash. I used a little greenhouse (what I call a hoop house) to warm my garden this year, and in spite of snows and freezing temperatures, my peas are nearly ready to bloom.

Jim asks…

Has anyone ever used moss for mulch in thier vegetable garden?

A friend of mine has a lake in his yard and every year moss grows out of control. This year I picked up a truck load and blended it in my compost pile , which is very healthy. Since then though, I discovered grubbs by the hundreds. I’m wondering if this was a good idea or not. I never saw any grubbs before, could it be that the moss had the larva in it? Or is this just normal for a compost pile?

Home Gardener answers:

Moss harbor critters like red bug and mosquitoes,if you would like to put it to good use wash it in diluted Clorox then rinse well it is good for holding in moisture.

Caroline asks…

home & garden. Is it ok to use lawn grass clippings as mulch in a vegetable garden?

Home Gardener answers:

Grass clippings are all I use in my vegetable garden. I add them throughout the summer and they compost in place. My soil is terrific, with very little effort. Just make sure that you don’t turn green clippings in to your soil as that depletes available nitrogen. Once they’re dry it’s fine. I have a very weedy lawn but haven’t had much trouble with weeds in the garden at all. Straw does work great too but the years that I used hay I was overrun with clover. Between that and the fact that grass clippings are free it was a clear choice for me!

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