Grow Your Own: Organic Garden Guide for Mulching, Feeding and Pest Control

This second installment of Darlington's organic gardening guide advises on the use of organic mulch, feeding plants, and pest control in the garden.


| July/August 1970



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If you've been working very hard on your garden, planting, cultivating, weeding, watering, etc., you can relax now because your work is done. If your seedlings are up to at least two inches or so, apply a mulch and then forget about garden work except for picking harvest.

Illustration by MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff

PLEASE NOTE: During the makeup of our last issue, proper credit to the publisher of GROW YOUR OWN was inadvertently omitted. Here it is, both for now and as it should have appeared then:

Copyright © 1970, Jeanie Darlington.
All rights reserved.
Published by the BOOKWORKS,
1611 San Pablo Avenue,
Berkeley, California.
Reprinted by permission.

Here's another installment of Jeanie Darlington's warm little introduction to organic gardening. If you liked what you read in the last issue and you like what you see in this one, we advise you to hurry and get your own personal copy of GROW YOUR OWN organic gardening guide. They're going fast! 

Organic Garden Mulch

If you've been working very hard on your garden, planting, cultivating, weeding, watering, etc., you can relax now because your work is done. If your seedlings are up to at least two inches or so, apply a mulch and then forget about garden work except for picking harvest.

A mulch is a layer of usually but not always organic material laid on top of all the exposed soil in your garden. Hay or straw, grass clippings, leaves or leaf mold; shells and hulls of rice, buckwheat, cottonseed, cocoa beans, oats and peanuts; seaweed or kelp, pine needles, sawdust, newspaper, old carpets and even black plastic. Any of these will do. The purposes of a mulch are to conserve moisture, regulate the soil temperature so it stays cool in summer and warm in winter, discourage weeds, prevent a hard top crust from forming, prevent erosion, and eventually to decay and add a rich layer of humus to your soil.

Since we don't get rain in this part of California between May and October, mulches are a must in my opinion. Last summer, I applied a mulch and then watered my garden deeply once a week. (Frequent and light waterings cause shallow feeder roots and this in turn causes plants to wilt easily if these roots do not receive moisture.) I never cultivated or pulled a single weed. For my mulch, I used hay that I gathered from the vacant lot next door. The hay kept the vegetables from getting muddy when I watered, and it kept things like squash and tomatoes from rotting since they were not touching the wet soil.





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