Mulch in the Garden

cocoa chaff mulchRemember when I told you all about mulch? Mulch is your garden-friend and can really help you in the heat of summer to aid in water retention and weed supression. However, mulch in the spring is another issue entirely. As I stood in line at my coffee shop and read the encouraging sign "Free Garden Mulch - Take Some Grounds Home!" ………... on a pile of bagged and spend coffee beans, I thought of some issues mulch may actually create.

When you use decaying 'greens' for mulch (coffee grinds, grass clippings, etc), not only are you inviting crucial microorganisms to your garden, you're inviting pests. That decaying mass of green or hay or torn paper strips is also an uber-hospitable environment for snails and slugs. If there is anything I truly despise of in my gardens, it's slugs. They have the ability to mow down entire rows of lettuce and chew off entire fennel bulb starts in the course of an evening. Breaks my heart to see.

So.............should you mulch in the spring time? It's really up to you. Try experimenting and mulching only half of your garden and see what happens. In my apartment garden (containers) I mulch with spent cocoa chaff that I pick up from Theo Chocolate - an organic chocolate roastery right by my house. (Cocoa will not work for anyone with dogs!) Or mulch when it's dry, but turn it in when it's gray and rainy for days on end. Whatever you decide, just be on the lookout for snails and keep in mind gardening is a delicate balance between benefit and detriment at times.