The Q&A Archives: Mulch

Question: What is a good mulch for a Michigan vegetable garden? I used grass clippings last year but am afraid that might have caused disease to my tomatoes.

Answer: Mulch is a good thing! In my experience, any organic mulch will do including compost, straw, wood chips, cardboard and even newspaper. There are a few cautions which come immediately to mind, however. Grass clippings treated with herbicide should not be used; manure should be well aged; colored inks should be avoided; pine needles used in great quantity may acidify the soil; fresh bark or other fresh green "woody" mulches may require additional nitrogen be added. (A year of aging is a good idea if you want to stockpile your grass clippings and use them next year. Any of these organic mulches will benefit the soil structure in time as they break down, and they will all do the job. Best wishes with your garden!

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