Weeding your schoolyard garden can be a tedious task for students and teachers alike. To help prevent weeds from growing in your garden, consider adding straw mulch to your schoolyard garden.
A thick layer of straw mulch limits the weeds’ access to sunlight, thereby stifling emerging weed seedlings. Before applying mulch, weed the garden as thoroughly as possible. Then, take handfuls of your straw mulch and disperse it around the base of all of your established vegetable plants that are at least 4 inches tall. Be sure to add a thick layer, about three inches thick or more, so that you can’t see any of the soil underneath. When spreading the straw, be sure to not cover the plants entirely, so that they are able to access the sunlight. Additionally, avoid covering areas of your garden with new seeds–they need to be able to see the sunlight!
Once the straw is spread throughout the raised bed, water the garden so that the straw mulch stays in place. As the season goes on, add more mulch to the garden as needed. After the growing season, you can also add straw mulch over your beds to “close” them during the winter, after you’ve pulled all of your fall plants out. This will protect the soil from being compacted by snow and ice.
In addition to keeping weeds out of your garden, straw mulch helps the garden by keeping the soil moist and loose—it provides a protective barrier between the soil and the hot sun and beating rain.
Straw is what we use at KCCG, but there are other mulch options as well, including grass clippings, leaves, or shredded newspaper. Try and avoid using wood chip mulch, as it pulls nitrogen from the soil and thus from your vegetable plants. If your schoolyard garden is in need of mulch, please call us at 816-931-3877 or e-mail your schoolyard garden contact at KCCG. Happy mulching!