I just would like to say thank you for allowing residents to contact this community for all our gardening needs!
This year we are first time gardeners and we planted a nice fresh veggie patch with a variety of different veggies (Including 3 fruit bushes each being strawberry, raspberries and blueberries). We have been reading about mulching our garden, and it seems that Hay, Straw, Pine needles, Grass clippings and Leaves are the way to go, but sadly we can’t seem to get a hold of these materials what so ever. We read that wood chippings may also be used, but that seems to be highly not recommended for vegetables as they are not permanent plants. We heard that Newspaper and Cardboard may be used, but we aren’t quite sure how to go about using it, or if it’s safe to use (We keep reading mixed reviews).
We are completely unsure of what route to take, considering Hay, Straw, Pine needles, Grass clippings and Leaves are unavailable EVERYWHERE we look that isnt 100+ KM away from the city. Would you recommend us any thing we may use to keep our garden fresh with mulch?
Thank you, we would love all the help we could get!
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.
A layer of mulch in your vegetable garden is a great idea because it will help to protect the root zone of your plants, prevent moisture evaporation and help to prevent the growth of weeds. Some gardeners prefer finely ground tree bark mulch – cedar or pine in a layer about 5 cm. thick – while others prefer straw. Now is a good time to apply a layer of mulch, before the summer heat sets in. Look for mulches labelled “finely textured” or “finely shredded” and avoid the coloured mulches in favour of natural bark.
Garden expert Mark Cullen suggests finely ground cedar mulch. He writes on the Toronto Botanical Garden website with this and other tips for success in the vegetable garden: https://torontobotanicalgarden.ca/get-gardening/mark-cullens-10-tips-for-growing-vegetables/
The Toronto Master Gardeners has teamed up with the City of Toronto to produce a good guide on organic vegetable growing, available here: Organic Vegetable Gardening
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has an online handbook on Growing Vegetable Tips
Best wishes for a productive season and a great harvest.