WV Farm Bureau Magazine May 2012 - Page 11

WVU Update Published as a Special Insert for Farm Bureau News Spring 2012 Biodegradable mulches good for home gardens T o have a successful garden, it’s important to mulch all fruits and vegetables. Synthetic Some gardeners use synthetic plastic mulches, such as black polyethylene plastic, or woven fabrics, such as weed barrier or landscape fabric. Black Mulches reduce weed competition, keep the soil cool (or warm), reduce topsoil erosion and nutrient leaching, retain soil moisture, and prevent soil from splashing onto plants. There are several types of mulches, including organic, synthetic plastic, and biodegradable plastic and paper mulches. These materials are applied around vegetable or fruit plants in the row or between rows. Organic Straw, hay, wood chips, sawdust, and paper are common organic mulches. Organic mulches are broken down naturally by bacteria, fungi, and other soil microbes over the growing season, and they can increase organic matter in the garden. Biodegradable organic mulches are very good choices for home gardens. Because organic mulches keep the soil cool, using them can limit early production of such heat-loving crops as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, and eggplants. mulches, which often come in rolls for easy use. Biodegradable mulches are made from plant starches, such as corn or potatoes, or from cellulosic products, such as paper. Because soil microbes break the mulch material down to carbon dioxide and water within five months, the mulches do not have to be removed at the end of the growing season. Since most vegetables are harvested within four months from planting, these mulches provide weed control throughout the season. What is left of biodegradable mulches can be tilled into the soil at the end of the season. Commercially available biodegradable mulches include such brands as BioTelo and Eco-One. Generally, the mulches are sold as 4- to KYYHX[HYݙ\H\[ˈ[YܘYXH\X][\[\[Y[\\X][[[ܙH\[X\ ]\[\ܝ[[H[[YܙH\Z[H][\[ݙ\HY\][ H\\Y][ۈ[H܈Z\H[HXY[\H][]\H[ˈ8$۝[YYۈYH]8$‚][\ݚYHX[H[Y]\[[˂][\\HH[܈\\X\Y\ܛܛ \X][\\H[]][HX\H\K]^HX\H]\[K^H]\H[[ݙY]H[وHܛ[X\ۋX[HX܈[[]H[Y\K[YܘYXB[[ۈ܈YH\[\\\H\X܈\\[YܘYXB[\ݚYYHՕH^[[ۈ\XH[]\YHوYˋ]\[\\\[\Yۂ[ L\\[XH\H\X]H]‚LB