Mulch: Your garden's best friend

The weather is so lovely that everyone is still talking gardens. The big question is what to do in the late fall garden. You can never go wrong with feeding and building your soil.

An excellent fall project for the garden is mulching. Mulch is your friend and this simple covering solves many problems in the garden. It controls weeds, keeps the soil moist in dry summers, and prevents erosion and run off.

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If you use an organic mulch, it will feed the soil as it decomposes, which adds much-needed nutrients and builds good soil structure. The one job that is always worth doing is creating organic matter to feed your garden.

Compost is excellent mulch but here in Squamish bears can be an issue. Another way of creating organic matter and providing much-needed mulch for the garden is leaf mould.

Leaf mould is made of leaves - nothing fancy - and the best part of making and using it is that it's free. Garden experts will often recommend chopping up your leaves first before you use them. A lawnmower is great for chopping leaves, but failing that, you can just let mother nature take its course.

If you don't have spare leaves in your backyard, ask a neighbour or collect them in garbage bags from the side of the highway.

The lazy way to make leaf mould is to scatter leaves around your garden and wait for them to partially decay. It's a great way to recycle leaves and build humus-rich soil.

Of course, some people want a tidier look. Start by gathering leaves in large plastic bags. If you can, put two or three shovel fulls of good dirt in the bag, too. Then make a few holes in the top and bottom of the bags for air circulation and drainage. You need to do this or you end up with sludge.

Let the bags sit over winter and when you check out your bags in spring, the volume of the leaves will be reduced in half. Inside you will find the elusive "black gold" that all gardeners strive for. Take our your crumbly, earthy leaf mould and shovel it onto your garden as mulch.

If you would like to speed up the rotting process of the mulch, try adding a high-nitrogen organic fertilizer like blood meal to the bags.

Any leaves will work, but from experience I would avoid oak leaves, as they take an exceptionally long time to break down. Try mulch - your plants will thank you.

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@ Copyright Squamish Chief

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