I had a chance to get out in the garden last weekend, and a fine time to garden it was too. Saturday and Sunday morning were comparatively warm and sunny, and rain was forecast for Sunday afternoon and evening.
A perfect time to mulch.
I started by planting out a few more seedlings to add to the silver beet, lettuces and broccoli I’d planted about a month ago and the celery I started in summer. The silver beet and lettuce’s growth rates have been excellent, the broccoli’s slowed considerably by chook attack (those birds are really starting to annoy me….. Who knew they liked broccoli leaves even more than silver beet?)
Once the seedlings were in and the sun had warmed the ground a little I started spreading mulch.
I mulch in winter for 3 reasons:
- To add organic matter to the soil. Broken down mulch can improve soil structure and as a mine tends towards clay I find the texture mulch gives it really beneficial.
- To retain warmth. This can be a little fraught as if you mulch at the wrong time in winter you can end up retaining cold rather than warmth. As a result I try and mulch on a nice warm sunny day preferably after a comparatively mild night. Night time temperatures often significantly impact on soil temperature and so this can be more important than day time temperatures. I probably should have mulched a month or so ago but at least I managed to get round to it in Autumn (albeit on it’s last day).
- To retain moisture. In theory we get most of our rain in winter in Melbourne. In practice it is often dry and the shorter daylight hours mean that I frequently leave for work in the dark and arrive home in the dark leaving little time for comfortable watering.
This time I used sugar cane mulch. As much as I like pea straw, and the little volunteer plants it produces, I find sugar cane mulch easier to spread. As a result I use it quite a bit particularly when I am mulching around seedlings which can get swamped in the never ending strands of pea straw.
Rain did arrive on Sunday afternoon bedding my mulch down nicely, now I just hope the various birds that inhabit may garden leave it alone.