9. Failure to Mulch

Mulching is the most under-utilized and under-appreciated gardening practice. When starting a vegetable garden, it’s a tiny investment of time and resources at the beginning that pays big dividends down the road.

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Tomato Temple 1 ‘Genovese’ Basil 2 Cabbage Varieties—‘Red Express’

Top 10 Mistakes
 1.) Too Much Garden
 2.) Wrong Varieties
 3.) Planting Too Early
 4.) Poor Soil Preparation
 5.) Poor Garden Spacing
 6.) Not Enough Light
 7.) Incorrect Watering
 8.) "More is Better" Trap
 9.) Not Mulching
10.) Ignoring Pollinators

A mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of the soil between plants. For vegetable gardens, a 1-2" (2-5cm) layer is usually enough.

Mulches can be inorganic (stone, plastic) or organic (chipped or ground bark, sawdust, shredded paper). When starting a vegetable garden, use organic mulches because they eventually break down and enrich the soil.


  • hold in soil moisture,
  • keep roots cooler,
  • suppress weeds,
  • provide habitat for soil organism that cycle nutrients for your vegetables, and
  • protect the soil surface from the drying effect of sun and wind, and from pounding by driving rain.

Mulches also prevent or reduce the surface crusting that constricts around the stems of spring and fall vegetables, a constriction that’s one of the signals that causes these vegetables to bolt prematurely.

Mulches can reduce watering needs by 20% in hot climates.

Back to Starting a Vegetable Garden

Top Ten Mistakes Beginning Gardeners Make:

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