Inorganic mulching - Comparison of costs for organic mulches
by Frann Leach
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Organic gardeners tend to go on about mulch. But if you're just starting out, these charts will help you to choose between the different types available.

Comparative effect of inorganic mulches

Effect of covering an area of soil with different materials for a period of 2 weeks prior to sowing. The effect is greater towards the middle of the area.

Type of material single layer double layer
Landscape fabric +1 degrees C +1 degrees C
Carpet +1 degrees C +1 degrees C
Clear polythene +2 degrees C +2 degrees C
Fleece +2 degrees C +2 degrees C
Black polythene +1 degrees C +1 degrees C


Comparative cost of organic mulches

Autumn leaves Free
Bagged composted bark 60p/bucket
Bagged chipped wood* 60p/bucket
Well rotted manure Cheap/free
Composted municipal sludge 83p/bucket
Bagged cocoa chips/shell** £1/bucket
*robs nitrogen, sprinkle beneath with blood, fish & bone
**slug repellent

When to use mulch

Purpose Plants When Material
To conserve moisture and suppress annual weeds Roses, shrubs, soft fruit, asparagus, globe artichokes April/May before the ground dries out Peat, leafmould, compost, lawn mowings
Suppression of perennial weeds All types Anytime Newspaper, plastic
Frost protection Asparagus, globe artichoke, many shrubs, some flowers (dahlias) Autumn Straw, rough leafmould, bracken, green manure crop
Protecting muddy paths, especially in raised bed growing All types Anytime Straw, sawdust, bark chippings
©2004 Frann Leach. All rights reserved.

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