To mulch or not to mulch? | LadyBug Lessons
Updated: Mar 10
Mulch packs a powerful punch when it comes to earth care in the gardens. However, mulch doesn’t necessarily have to come from your nearest big box home improvement store –repurposed tires, newspaper, cardboard, and biodegradable, locally sourced materials (hay, straw) are great alternatives to what you may typically consider “mulch”.
In the spirit of accessible earth care, we LadyBugs encourage the use of pine needles, grass clippings, bark, fallen branches and twigs, leaves, and untreated woodchips and sawdust from your yard (or the neighbors’ if they don’t want it!). Being that these are “high carbon elements”, it is important to naturally introduce nitrogen into the mulch as well: fresh grass clippings will do the trick, as well as fruit scraps, compost, or manure. Incorporating a few different types ensures that your mulch will not blow away, overheat your soil, or suffocate it.
Do note, however, that the characteristics of your soil will dictate which elements you need to include in your perfect mulching mixture.
Mulching in the fall, before the first hard frost, will empower the plants to maintain healthy moisture levels throughout drastic changes in temperature. Mulch three inches deep, and top off as necessary, depending on wind and water exposure. You can build around your mulch with logs and/or stone, but be sure that that does not, in turn, allow the moisture to spread to neighboring organisms and result in rot.
Spreading mulch in the spring will protect your living soil and microbiome from the elements and prevent weed growth, while providing an aesthetic element to your garden design. We recommend enriching your soil with organic composts first, then applying the decorative and protect mulch layers you prefer.
For more traditional mulch resources, LadyBug EarthCare partners with digmyearth LLC, a woman-owned and operated business in Harrisburg, PA that specializes in mulch and topsoil. Digmyearth LLC provides organic leaf compost, mushroom soil, screened topsoil, and 100% oak wood chips. The mulch comes in natural (undyed), red, black, and brown (non-toxic soy ink).
Mulching is an integral part of any garden design; it protects plants, prevents weeds, promotes healthy soil, can be achieved in a variety of ways that has a positive impact on Earth. Your plants will thank you. It’s also a great workout, so join us sometime!
Written by Olivia M, Edited by Kendra H