Mulch is one of the finest garden commodities for protecting soil during winters, keeping plants healthy, shielding against various plant-borne diseases, and conserving soil moisture. Obviously, there are many different types of mulch, and you need to search through these types to find one that is specifically designed for your garden’s needs.
Some of the most common types of mulch include compost, Coconut, bark, hay, leaves, and straw. And I am sure that if you are reading this article, you agree that there’s nothing more vital for a vegetable garden than mulch. So let’s take the time to learn about the best mulches for your garden. Like this, your crops can grow healthy, green, and protected.
By the way, below, we will provide information on five different types of mulch you can use for your vegetable garden.
5 Best Organic Mulch For Vegetable Gardens
Using mulch in the vegetable garden is not a roquet science technology. Even the newest gardener can do this. And you’ll see some of the most effective magic of using mulch in your local garden, it being vegetables or fruits.
In essence, the more you apply mulch, the more you’ll get addicted to mulching vegetables. So if you are still wondering what kind of mulch to use, the below 4 organic mulch options will provide you joy season after season. We have added an extra inorganic plastic option in case you want to go for a more drastic option.
- #1. FibreDust CoCo Mulch For Vegetable Gardens – Best Overall
- #2. EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch For Vegetable Garden – Best For Soil Moisture
- #3. Burpee Organic Premium Potting Mix Mulch – Best For Root Growth
- #4. Warps No Hoe Garden Mulch For Vegetables – Best Weed Control
- #5. USA Premium Pine Straw Mulch For Vegetables – Best Value
#1. FibreDust CoCo Mulch For Vegetable Gardens – Best Overall Organic Mulch
For those who are interested in the best mulch for vegetable gardens, we highly recommend that you take a look at the FibreDust CoCo Mulch, which is made of coconut husks.
It looks nice and lasts for a good bit longer than the competition and the price is right.
If you’re looking for a mulch to improve your vegetable garden soil, FibreDust’s CoCo Mulch is a great option.
Made of coconut husks, this mulch is organic and biodegradable, so it won’t harm the environment.
It also helps retain moisture in the soil, which can be important during hot summers.
And because it’s light-colored, it reflects sunlight back up onto the plants, helping them grow healthy and strong.
As such, when it comes to the best mulch for vegetable gardens, we suggest that you try out the FibreDust CoCo Mulch.
Again, we want to emphasize that this mulch is made of 100% coconut husk and doesn’t contain any fillers.
We think that it works great for vegetable gardens because it is a pretty generic mulch for all types of vegetation.
It is pretty non-intrusive and will keep the unwanted things out.
So in other words, it greatly enhances the soil by increasing its water retention without soaking it to oversaturation. It also helps the soil absorb more nutrients.
To top it all off, we just like the way it looks, which has this nice rustic brown look that slowly fades. And this mulch is built to last for up to two years.
- Can cover large areas
- Produced in the USA
- Easy to spread
- Good value
- No seeds
- No bad smells and odors
- Blow away if not laid properly
#2. EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch For Vegetable Gardens – Best For Soil Moisture
This simple product is a straw bale that has been pre-seeded with a variety of vegetables, so all you have to do is plant it and water it.
The EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch is a great way to get a head start on your garden, and since the vegetables are already germinated, you’ll be able to harvest them sooner.
That’s why we put this mulch as our second-best mulch for vegetable gardens.
If you are going for a straw mulch that greatly speeds up germination and increases yields.
While it may not be the prettiest of mulches, it sure does a vegetable garden wonders as it protects seeds from being washed out and winds from lifting things out.
So don’t worry about it flying all over the place from the wind as it has a bonding agent that keeps it in place while giving your soil and veggies plenty of room to breathe.
Best of all, it really does help your veggies grow in that it prevents unwanted weeds, moss, and fungi from growing in your soil.
- Control weeds
- No seeds
- Retain moisture
- Slow breakdown
- Very easy to use
- Does not blow away if laid down properly
- You may find a little bit of dust in the pack
#3. Burpee Organic Premium Potting Mix Mulch – Best For Root Growth
It is also a great way to improve the drainage of your soil. Potting mix is made up of different types of soils and organic matter.
When you are looking for a potting mix, it is important to find one that is high in organic matter. This will help improve the quality of your soil. And a really nice option when it comes to the best mulch for vegetable gardens is the Burpee Organic Premium Potting Mix.
First of all, it is made with coconut coir, which greatly helps maintain moisture and makes it so that you need to water your veggies a lot less often.
It is nice to know that this mulch mix is also enhanced with Burpee plant food which feeds plants for up to 3 months in a slow-release formula.
Also, this mulch is absolutely perfect if you don’t want any bugs or infestations in your garden as it just seems to keep the pests away.
- Impressive water retention
- Improves root growth
- Increases nutrient retention
- Helps root anchorage
- Improves soil quality
- Keep pests away
- A bit expensive at times
#4. Warps No Hoe Garden Mulch For Vegetables – Best Weed Control
While this is pretty heavy-duty plastic, it is also quite flexible and has small perforations to give you vegetation plenty of breathing space.
It also does a really good job of blocking the weeds and easily allowing moisture and nutrients into the soil.
This allows your plants and veggies to grow faster actually. Finally, we like that it is pretty much mess-free and lasts for much longer than traditional bark mulch which tends to decompose faster.
- Increase yield
- Control weeds effectively
- Retain moisture
- Very easy to use
- Does not blow away
- Not environmentally friendly
#5. USA Premium Pine Straw Mulch For Vegetables – Best Value
However, if you’re looking for an organic option that will also help improve the quality of your soil, consider using USA Premium Pine Straw Mulch.
Made from pine needles that have been sourced from sustainable forests, this mulch is both eco-friendly and beneficial for your plants.
It helps keep the soil moist by regulating its temperature and preventing weeds from growing.
In addition, pine straw mulch has a natural ability to suppress plant diseases.
That’s why we kept this mulch as our last one. In essence, we also selected this much as you can buy it in bulk and save a lot of money.
The pine needles have been sourced from sustainable forests, so it is eco-friendly and beneficial for your plants.
This mulch also helps keep moisture in the soil, which encourages healthy plant growth. It also prevents weeds from growing, making it a great choice for vegetable gardens.
This straw mulch is pretty plain and simple and obviously organic and does not contain any fillers.
Many people like it because it has this natural beautiful color and it does wonders in helping your vegetable garden in the winter by protecting roots.
All in all, if you want something that really helps regulate the temperature in extreme conditions whether it is heat or cold, this pine straw mulch is the way to go.
- Can cover large areas
- Produced in the USA
- Easy to spread
- Good value
- No seeds
- No bad smells and odors
- Does not blow away if laid properly
The best mulch to use depends on the climate, the type of soil, and the plants that are being grown. In essence, the mulch you choose can help to protect plants from heat and cold, keep the soil moist, and suppress weeds.
So, the best product for vegetable garden mulch, from our testing, research, and personal experience is the FibreDust CoCo Mulch. It is made from natural coconut fibers and is designed to help retain moisture in the soil and improve drainage. It is also effective at suppressing weeds and keeping the soil cool.
On the other hand, the EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch is also a good choice. It is made from 100% biodegradable straw and is designed to help with seed germination and growth. The Burpee is produced from organic compost and is designed to help improve drainage and aeration in the soil.
Warps Mulch is made from recycled paper and is said to be good for preventing weed growth. The USA Premium Pine Straw Mulch is made from pine straw. It is known to be effective in preventing weed growth and retaining moisture.
Do not forget that when you use mulch, you’ll reduce the use of any type of herbicide product. As such you’ll be reducing the quantity of harmful chemicals in your garden. So avoid the use of inorganic material, ensure you use a mulch without weed seeds in them, and surround each of your garden veggies with the best mulch option you have locally.
What you need to know and consider when buying mulch – A Buyer’s Guide
What is mulch?
Simply put, mulch is just a substance made from different types of materials to cover your soil. Good examples of mulch are sawdust, compost, gravel, plastic, etc. all used to cover exposed soil.
Mulch is used to mainly protect your soil and plants. Basically, it prevents weed growth, keeps your soil temperature stable (not too cold, not too hot), decreases erosion, and holds moisture in the soil.
Mulching can be done around your whole ground, but it is particularly useful to mulch around your vegetable garden.
The two main types of mulch
Basically, there are only two main types of mulch:
- Organic mulch.
- Inorganic mulch.
1. Organic mulch gardening
Organic mulch (like leaves, pine needles, and compost) is made from living organisms, so it will decompose through time. As it decomposes, it returns nutrients and organic matter to the soil and improves soil texture and quality. This makes organic mulch particularly useful for root health and plant growth. The nutrients are fertilizing the soil around them.
So, if you want to give your plants the best possible soil for growth, organic mulch is the optimal option.
2. Inorganic mulch
Inorganic mulch includes things such as black plastic, blankets, and gravel. These mulches are usually made out of non-biodegradable materials. In most cases, they do not decompose, or their decomposition is very slow. Inorganic mulches last longer than organic mulch and are highly effective against weeds.
If you want a solution that is long-lasting without having the need to lay out mulch every year, then inorganic mulch is an excellent choice.
Benefits of natural mulch for vegetable gardens
There are many benefits to using mulch in a garden. The most common are as follows:
- Improves the garden’s visual appearance
- Reduce erosion
- Weed suppression
- Water retention
- Nutrients provision
- Insulate the soil from extreme weather conditions
- Reduce the spread of diseases
1. Use natural mulch material to improve your garden’s appearance
Mulch can improve the appearance of your garden by giving it a tidy, finished look.
2. Reduce erosion with mulch in your garden
Mulch does reduce runoff and erosion. They also help hide bare spots and old soil erosion. Avoiding erosion is critical to the survival of your garden. If your soil erodes, it is all of the good soil and sediments that will leave your terrain. What will remain will be an approvished soil, where plants will not be able to grow properly.
3. Add mulch for weed suppression
Mulch can help to suppress weeds by creating a barrier between the soil and the sunlight. This barrier prevents weed seeds from germinating and growing. By preventing weeds from growing, your veggie will not have to compete for nitrogen nutrients and water, thus better and stronger plants will be the result.
4. Moisture conservation
Mulch can help to conserve moisture in the soil by creating a barrier between the soil and the air. This barrier helps to reduce evaporation and keep the soil moist for longer periods. So, if you are living in an area where there are water irrigation restrictions, using mulch will definitely help you have strong plants. This is especially beneficial in hot weather conditions.
5. Nutrient provision
Mulch can provide nutrients to the soil as it breaks down. This process is known as decomposition, and it can release nutrients that are beneficial for plant growth.
6. Insulate your garden soil
Mulch also helps to insulate the soil, keeping it cooler in summer and warmer in winter. This can help to extend the growing season.
7. Reduces the spread of diseases
Mulch is known to act as a barrier again diseases. Basically, by laying out mulch you prevent soil splash. Several garden centers that we contacted have mentioned that cucumbers, tomatoes, and squash will surely rot if disease organisms (found in the soil) transfer from the soil onto the plant. This is also caused by erosion. Transmission of soil-prone disease often happens in a new garden.
All in all, mulch is an important part of any vegetable garden and offers many benefits. It is important to choose the right type of mulch for your garden and to apply it correctly. So what’s the best mulch you need for your vegetable garden beds? See below for 5 mulch your vegetable garden could do with.
FAQ on the best mulch for vegetable gardens
Here are some common and most frequent questions that we get about mulching a vegetable garden.
When to apply mulch for vegetable gardens?
There is no definitive answer to this question since it can vary depending on the specific garden and climate. In general, however, it is typically best to apply mulch around the time when plants are starting to grow in the spring. This can help to protect the plants and keep the soil moist.
How do I water plants under a black plastic garden mulch?
If you’re using black plastic mulch in your garden, you’ll need to take special care when watering your plants. Be sure to water slowly and evenly, so that the water has a chance to seep down through the mulch and reach the roots of the plants.
Note that watering plants under a black plastic mulch is best done with a soaker hose or drip irrigation. These methods help to reduce evaporation and ensure that the water goes directly to the roots of the plants.
How long does it take for leaf mulch compost to be ready?
Leaf mulch can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to be ready. There are times when it can take up to 18 months. This all depends on the type of leaves used and the method of preparation. If you’re in a hurry, you can speed up the process by chopping the leaves into smaller pieces or by adding a layer of nitrogen-rich material such as manure.
Your leaves or compost or mulch will be ready as soon as the leaves are friable (like crumble). Then it is time to lay it out.
How often should I apply the best mulch for vegetable gardens?
When it comes to mulching your vegetables, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The amount of mulch you’ll need will depend on the type of vegetables you’re growing, the climate you live in, and the amount of rainfall you get. In general, though, it’s a good idea to apply a layer of mulch around your vegetables at the beginning of the growing season. This will help to keep the soil moist and prevent weeds from taking over. You may need to reapply the mulch throughout the season as it breaks down (usually at mid-season).
So, if it is a decomposing mulch (organic), it is advisable to mulch twice per season (unless the mulch you selected is of slow decomposition type such as bark wood chip).
Now, if you use inorganic mulch, then you may need to change the mulch once in 4 to 5 years.
What are the different types of mulches to avoid in a vegetable garden?
There are many benefits of mulch, but there are several mulches to avoid in vegetable gardens too. For instance, these can contain chemicals or other harmful substances that can potentially contaminate the food you are trying to grow and eat. Some of the mulches to avoid include:
- Hay: Hay contains a lot of grain seeds (including weed seeds). It is best to avoid it as it is not a good source of organic material and does not really provide a mulching benefit. There is an exception to this if you buy weed-free salt hay (if you find this mulch, then please buy it as it is fine for use in your garden. In summary, our preference is to use straw instead of hay.
- Composted manure: This mulch is more of a fertilizer than anything else. It is most of the time great to use it. However, at times, it may contain harmful bacteria that can contaminate your food. So avoid it for your garden beds.
- Wood chips or bark: We love these. However, you need to check if this wood chip mulch contains chemicals. Check the composition, and if they’re no chemicals, then fine, you can use the wood mulch. The reason we speak about avoiding the chemical is that they can leach into the soil and potentially contaminate your food. Hope it makes sense. There is another reason for avoiding the use of wood chips as mulch for the vegetable garden. Wood mulches have a tendency to tie up nitrogen at the soil surface when they decompose. So your plant will suffer from nitrogen deficiency. This means that the nitrogen will stay above the soil and not get to the roots of your plants. And nitrogen is the fertilizer that your plant needs to grow strong and fast. Your plant will therefore have some yellowish leaves and suffer. You may need to use fertilizer before using wood mulch or change to another type of mulch altogether.
- Synthetic mulches: Again, these can contain harmful chemicals that can leach into the soil and potentially contaminate your food. Best to avoid them unless you have no other choice. Note that is best to stay clear of transparent plastic. The reason is that these will increase the heat and keep the moisture underneath the plastic. The clear transparent plastic will allow the light to go through and therefore provide great terrain for weeds to grow. This is definitely the mulch to avoid for organic gardening.
- Grass clippings: These can contain chemicals from herbicides and pesticides that can leach into the soil and potentially contaminate your food. So again, check the composition.
- Unshredded leaves: Apart from the fact that these can contain chemicals from herbicides and pesticides, leaves are a great mulch. But you need to use shredded ones and ones that are at a fillable stage. Avoid whole leaves to form a dense mat over your soil. These will lead to high moisture and you’ll get fungal disease in your veggies. Note that laying these in your garden may lead the leaves to blow away. So a lot of work for the wind to take it all away from you. This is definitely not the best organic mulch for vegetable gardens.