Mulching in a temperate climate garden

Mulching in the permaculture gardenI am struggling with mulching in my garden at the moment. Mulching is such a simple concept, yet there are quite complicated processes behind it. As I am just starting my garden, my main problem is finding material to mulch with. I am not in a position to use the material that I think would work best, I have to use what I can come by. At the same time, I think this is also how a lot of other people following the permaculture way works. Use what we have, reuse and repurpose and figure out how to make it work, even if it is not always as it ideally could have been done.

Mulching is a technique that can be used to solve a lot of issues in the garden. In my garden I have the following problems that I want to alleviate with mulching.

  • Lack of light. My garden is facing north-east and don’t get all that much direct sunlight. I have sun from sunrise to about one in the afternoon, and then I get some sun coming in from around five until seven in the afternoon. There are also have several tall trees blocking some of that light.
  • Poor soil quality. The soil here is full of small and larger rocks and it is quite compacted. I have also added some soil which, unfortunately, is low on organic matter.
  • Dry weather. I am in the inland zone of a temperate climate, so we do get weeks in a row without any rain where the soil easily dries out.

Mulches comes in many different materials, textures, colours and sizes. Ideally, I would like to have much that has a light colour. This would help reflect more light onto my plants. However, I don’t have a large budget to buy mulch, so I have to use what I can find. I also don’t want any dyed commercial mulches. Sawdust would be one option, so I am on the lookout for that in my neighbourhood.

I only want to use organic mulch that decomposes to help improve the soil quality and increase the organic matter in my system. Light coloured stones would be okay to increase light, but they would not help increase the quality of the soil. So that’s not a good option for my garden. Here is another tip for improving the soil quality in your garden!

Any organic matter would help protect the soil from drying out in warm weather. So for my garden the two first points on my lists are the most important once to get right.

At the moment I am mulching with a combination of leafs, grass clippings and pine needles that naturally fall in my garden. That is what I have available now.

Here is a nice list of different mulches you can use and pros and cons for each.

The slug issue

Even if I technically am in the inland zone, I’m not that far from the coastal zone, so we often also have rather cold and wet weather here. That means I have to be prepared for both warm-dry and cold-wet weather. However, the cold-wet weather is not such a problem for me when it comes to mulching. The water drains away easily, so I don’t get water piling up anywhere or creating damage. The only issue is the slugs!

For me that is one of the main down sides to mulching. The slugs thrive in a mulched garden. And especially when it rains a lot. I still think the benefits of mulching outweighs the drawbacks, though, so I will keep mulching!

Here is a video from my garden showing how I’m doing with the mulching:

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