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Where Does My Food Come From Series: Types of Organic Mulch

By: Steve Frailey Wednesday July 1, 2020 comments Tags: organic mulching, organic farming, organic noni farm, sustainable farming

What is Mulch?

Mulch is any material applied to the surface of soil for protection or aesthetic purposes.

What is Organic Mulch?

Organic mulch is derived from something that was once living and will decompose over time.

Benefits of Mulch
Mulch can help reduce weeds by preventing sunlight needed for growth. Plants benefit by eliminating the competition for water and nutrients. 

Benefits of Organic Mulch 
Organic mulch nourishes the soil with beneficial bacteria, fungi, insects and worm poop. Organic mulch also provides insulation and reduces erosion allowing seeds to germinate and develop a more robust root system. There are numerous types of organic mulch. Below are the 3 most used types.

Types of Organic Mulch:

Wood Chips
Wood chips make great mulch and can add nutrients to your soil, help with moisture retention for your plants/trees and also suppresses weeds.

Steve’s Tip: A great source of wood chips is from your local tree trimmer. Large truck loads can be very affordably delivered. We love getting coconut palm frond chips- our worms love them. 

Wheat straw 
Light, fluffy, and relatively quick to break down, wheat straw is ideal for vegetable coverage as it nourishes the soil faster compared to other types of mulch. Since wheat straw breaks down quickly, it will need to be topped off after each growing season.

Steve’s Tip: Don’t confuse wheat straw with hay. Hay contains seeds and can take over your veggie garden.

Newspaper can be an effective weed barrier compared to chemicals and plastic sheets. Feel free to cover the newspaper with another type of mulch such as wheat straw or pine needles, to prevent flyaways. Similar to wheat straw, newspaper will need to be topped off after each growing season.

Steve’s Tip: Avoid magazines or glossy inserts. These can contain metal-based inks and poison your garden.

How to Apply Organic Mulch:

The coarser the mulch material, the thicker it needs to be applied in order to avoid gaps and fly aways. Apply a 3-6 inch layer to control most weeds.

Steve’s Tip: Pay attention to the source of your mulch. Avoid material contaminated with pesticides or disease.

Remember: The quality of your organic mulch affects the quality of your food and ultimately your health.

Only by knowing your farmer and understanding the practices they use to ensure fertile soil and low contamination can you trust that your food is really safe, sustainability grown, and maximally nutritious. Check out more organic farming tips on our blog page!



Steve Frailey

About the Author: Steve Frailey

My wife and I (Steve Frailey) moved to Kauai, Hawaii in 1982 from our organic farm in California. There were no roads, electricity, water or buildings but lots of Noni trees (Morinda Citrifolia) in our valley. We also developed a deep relationship with Noni that was growing all through our valley.  Today we run our Hawaiian Organic Noni farm, and share the gift of health with people throughout the world.