The Q&A Archives: Mulch for Vegetable Gardens

Question: I am a new gardener and am attempting a vegetable garden for the first time. I have read various things about the importance of mulching the garden and was wondering if there is a better or best type of mulch to use that would give me the best results. Is there any kind of mulch that would be bad for the plants due to acididy and breakdown?

Answer: There are probably as many opinions about mulch as there are gardeners, but in general any type of organic mulch is fine. It will feed the soil as it breaks down and will help hold soil moisture and keep weeds in check. You could use anything from chopped leaves to newspaper to shredded bark mulch to straw and it should be fine. Pine needles are occasionally mentioned as an acidic mulch and fresh sawdust tends to temporarily tie up nitrogen, but a thin layer of either of these would not cause a serious problem assuming your soil is in decent shape to begin with. If you are in doubt as to the pH and other qualities of your soil you could run some basic soil tests. Your County Extension (788-1338) should be able to help you with the tests and interpreting the results.

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