Vegetable gardens planted in soil that is topped with a layer of mulch tend to grow better due to the fact that mulch keeps the soil moist and nutrient rich even in the middle of a hot summer. There are many types of mulch that can be used for vegetable gardens, but one of the most unique options is wood chips. Wood chips can be purchased at most professional landscaping companies, like The Bushel Stop. Wood chips go a long way when used as mulch since you won't need a very thick layer. They're slow to decompose which means they can be used for many years without having to replace them. Wood chips also deter weeds to a larger degree than many other types of garden mulch.
If you're thinking of using wood chips in your vegetable garden, here are two tips:
Plant Vegetables that Thrive in Wood Chip Mulch
Some vegetables do better in wood chip mulch than others. If possible, you'll want to stick to planting seedlings in wood chips instead of seeds. Seeds can grow in soil lined with wood chip mulch, but they often have a hard time germinating, especially if your mulch layer is thicker than 2 inches deep. Plants that are thick and hearty like squash, zucchini, cucumber, pumpkin, and tomato tend to do the best.
Some vegetables that may not thrive well in wood chip mulch include carrots, beets, lettuce, spinach, and onions. This is likely due to the fact that these plants tend to germinate very near the surface of a soil bed.
Utilize the Soil and the Chips Separately
When planting with wood chip mulch, you'll need to remember that vegetables-- including both seedlings and seeds-- need to be planted within the soil underneath the mulch and not in the mulch itself. This means you'll need to use a shovel or your hands to remove the wood chips before planting. If the soil and wood chips are allowed to mix too much, you may risk losing the richness of the soil.
After planting, carefully place the mulch around the seedlings as you would a shrub. The mulch will protect the seedling and keep the soil underneath moist and full of nutrients. If you're starting with a fresh bed of soil that isn't particularly rich, you may need to add a layer of compost in between the soil and the wood chips. Newspaper can be added to the compost layer to hasten the decomposition process.
Experimenting with wood chip mulch is a great way to keep your vegetable garden growing robust and healthy during drought seasons. Follow the above tips to have the best chances of success. After seeing how well your plants do, you will likely never want to plant without mulch again.