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17979 State Route 536
Mt. Vernon, WA 98273
Fax 360-873-8264

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Fall Mulching
by Carol Yaw
Just take a walk through the forest in the late autumn and you'll quickly understand why compost and mulch are a gardener's most valuable and versatile tools! FREE, organic layers of leaves, twigs, bark and needles cover the ground and are slowly decaying into rich humus that will enrich and protect plant material all winter long.
Benefits of mulching your landscape this time of year include:
  1. Organic mulch slowly, consistently feeds your plants through the winter as rain drains through it down to plant roots.
  2. Mulching controls long-term weeds more effectively and safely than herbicides.
  3. Mulching protects and insulates your plants from winter climate extremes. It keeps soil moisture and temperature more consistent.
  4. Mulching stops soil erosion.
  5. Plants stay cleaner and healthier.

Tips on mulching:

  1. Choose mulches that you have easy access to and that are organic or as natural as you can find.
Compost - Great for vegetable and flowerbeds. Use 1"-2" of pure compost. Make sure it doesn't contain seedy weeds.

Grass Clippings - Best to use on vegetable and flowerbeds in northern states. Since they contain high moisture, let them dry for several days before applying 2"-3" thick.

Leaves - A heavy layer 3"-5" of shredded leaves applied in the Fall will protect your flower and vegetable beds from the harsh cold. Run a lawn mower over your leaves several times to shred. Alternately, Our Deluxe Leaf Mulcher reduces 11 bags of leaves down to a single bag of soil-enriching mulch fast!

Straw - Use a good quality straw and damp down after applying. Research studies have shown straw prevents disease especially in vegetable beds.

Coffee grounds, oak leaves and pine needles - These are excellent mulches to add to compost around azaleas, blueberries, rhododendrons, and other acid-loving plants.

  1. Always apply your mulch to weed-free soil and lay down a thick enough layer that it will hold in soil warmth and suppress weeds.
See Charley's Composting Supplies.