Well what a year it has been so far especially for all the poor gardeners and horticulturalists out there! I think we only had 2 completely dry days down here in South Devon since September last year until well in to Spring!! Apart from a brief respite over Christmas it was one hooligan storm after another. Now its dry this is where mulching your borders can pay dividends.
The main tasks in the Spring are pruning and mulching. I love mulching and encourage the team to be enthused about helping to spread tons of what I call ‘black gold’ over the recently cleared beds. I like a depth of at least 10cm and spread over any leaf debris is even better. The earth worms etc will work their magic and over time draw the organic matter down into the soil and feed the roots of the plants, create good bacteria and also aid drainage. If you mulch your beds regularly you will end up with wonderfully crumbly moist soil and will cut down massively on your watering during these drier months. Very important though to mulch over wet soil to lock in the moisture – which was not a problem this Spring!! Also mulch through November to late February depending whereabouts in the country you are before the new shoots appear. Your labours will be massively rewarded by lovely strong plants with good root structures and not a weed in sight!!
It is important to use weed free compost that has been heated to at least 80 degrees centigrade to kill off all the weed seeds otherwise you will just introduce weeds back into the soil which will compete for nutrients and water. Local councils usually make great mulch in this way by constantly turning massive windrows of the stuff but if you do make your own (which is a great thing to do) even if you turn it it won’t build up enough heat to kill off the weed seeds but still great to spread around established and newly planted trees and hedges where it is easier to control the weeds.