Mulching a vegetable garden can provide a myriad of benefits, from keeping your carrots plump to deterring weed growth. And if you have a large vegetable garden, you'll want to buy your mulch in bulk. So you need to decide which type of mulch you'll use before placing an order.
Here are some different types of mulch to consider for your vegetable garden.
1. Wood chips
You can buy wood chips in bulk from a mulch supplier. Some gardeners also use chip drop services to have wood chips dropped at their house for free. However, since these free wood chips are created when municipal services shred vegetation such as trees and bushes (after trimming these back from the road, etc.), they may not always be high-quality.
So, if you want wood chips that aren't full of leaves and twigs, buying them in bulk is your best bet for a great deal.
2. Straw or hay
For some types of vegetables and other garden plants, straw or hay can be a helpful mulch. One benefit of this type of mulch is that it eventually breaks down and enriches the soil (sort of like compost).
Mulching thickly with straw or hay can also reduce the sprouting of weed seeds by keeping light from reaching the surface of the soil. However, you have to be careful to choose a product that doesn't bring weed seeds along with it, or you could be adding to the same problem you're trying to fight.
An additional benefit of a thick layer of straw is that by shading the soil, it can help keep the roots of plants from overheating. This can be useful in summer.
3. Plastic mulch
Plastic mulch, as you'd expect, is made of a sheet of plastic that you lay down over the ground. Some people use this type of mulch for crops such as strawberries since the black plastic discourages weeds, doesn't give slugs and snails a great place to hide, and even keeps the surface of the ground warm so berries can ripen easily in the early spring.
For other uses of plastic mulch, you may want to pair it with a different mulch style. For instance, you could start with plastic mulch to keep the water in, then layer wood chips on top for aesthetic purposes or to avoid summer overheating.
These are just a few of the mulch types available to you as a vegetable gardener. Don't be afraid to branch out and use other types of mulch not traditionally used for vegetable gardens, either. For example, stone mulches are often used for decorative purposes such as xeriscape gardens but can also look great around artichokes or other large vegetable plants.