Stillwater News Press


March 29, 2014

Grow! 03-30-14

Mulch serves many purposes

There are a variety of reasons gardeners apply mulch. One of the main reasons is aesthetics – a mulched garden looks tidier and more attractive.

In addition to how it looks, mulch also provides a number of services to the garden and is an important part of maintaining plant health in a comprehensive Integrated Pest Management program.

As any gardener knows, weeds are a constant problem in the landscape. A layer of mulch prevents weed growth by smothering small weed seedlings. Also, mulch prevents air-borne seeds from taking hold in the soil. It also protects plants from soil-borne diseases by preventing rainfall and irrigation water from splashing pathogens onto the plants.

Not only does mulch protect the plants, but also it protects the soil by reducing soil compaction and erosion caused by foot traffic, wind and rain.

In addition, mulch helps regulate soil temperature by shading it in the summer and providing insulation in the winter. This temperature regulating effect helps encourage root growth of plants.

 Mulch also reduces moisture loss from the soil by preventing evaporation from sunshine and the mighty wind we’re all familiar with here in Oklahoma.

Garden plants aren’t the only vegetation to be enhanced by mulch. It can help prevent damage to trees and bushes by protecting their stems and surface roots from garden tools such as weed eaters, edgers and lawn mowers.

Finally, mulch provides a home for earthworms and natural enemies found in the soil. Insects, spiders and centipedes seek shelter beneath litter on the soil surface.

Mulch provides ample places for these arthropods to hide during the day. These predators will feed on a variety of garden pests during the cooler night hours. To see evidence of this, simply lift a rock or move aside the mulch in your garden and you are likely to see a ground beetle scurry away.

 Mulch can be broken into two main categories: organic mulches, which are derived from natural materials, and inorganic mulches, composed from synthetic or man-made materials, mainly plastic or aluminum.

Organic mulches are by far the most common in an ornamental garden. These include cut grasses, leaves, straw, hay, wood chips, bark, animal manures, plant debris or newspapers. Organic mulches decompose over time, adding organic matter to the soil and improving soil conditions. Organic matter loosens soils, which improves the root growth, increases water absorption and also improves the soil water-holding capacity. Decomposed mulch contributes nutrients to the soil that can be utilized by plants.  

Inorganic mulches include plastic and aluminum foil. These aren’t typically used in a home landscape, but can be beneficial in the vegetable garden. Different colored mulches are used to control a variety of pests. Aluminum mulch reflects sunlight and confuses and repels flying insects from coming onto the plants. Studies show red plastic mulch repels root maggots and other flies, while blue mulch confuses winged aphids and thrips. Black plastic mulch discourages sowbugs and other crawling pests that can’t withstand the heat and also helps in managing leafminers. Keep in mind, however, the pests from different regions react differently to various colors.

Kimberly Toscano is assistant extension specialist and host of the OETA television program Oklahoma Gardening, which airs at 11 a.m. Saturdays and 3:30 p.m. Sundays, and assistant director of The Botanic Garden at Oklahoma State University.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • In the Garden 07-27-14

    Quercus is the Latin name for oak. It is a quirky name; some believe its roots came from the Celtic word for “fine tree.” Anyone familiar with oaks knows they are indeed fine trees.

    July 26, 2014

  • Farmers Market

    The Stillwater Farmers Market is open every Monday at Stillwater Medical Center from 2-5:30 p.m. and every Wednesday and Saturday in Strickland Park at the corner of Hall of Fame Avenue and Main Street from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    What’s at market this week?

    July 23, 2014

  • Grow! 07-20-14

    Roses are a beautiful addition to any garden and landscape. They come in a variety of colors that enhance your yard. However, like other plants, roses are susceptible to disease. One that seems to hit roses the hardest is rose rosette disease caused by the rose rosette virus.

    July 19, 2014

  • Seed to Table 07-20-14

    Weed control is an important part of food production. So, I recently undertook an effort to rid my pastures of a particularly noxious weed.

    July 19, 2014

  • In the Garden 07-20-14

    Mulch is full of purpose. What it lacks in mystery, it makes up in function. Mulch contributes to healthy gardens. No one ponders or debates it, yet many do not take the time to mulch.

    July 19, 2014

  • Farmers Market 07-17-14

    The Stillwater Farmers Market is open every Monday at Stillwater Medical Center from 2-5:30 p.m. and every Wednesday and Saturday in Strickland Park from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    July 17, 2014

  • Grow! 07-13-14

    If you have no space outdoors for a garden, don’t despair because you can still grow something consumable. Bean sprouts are the easiest and fastest crop to grow.

    July 13, 2014

  • In the Garden 07-13-14

    “Where’s the relief?” That is what I’ve been thinking all week in the garden. I water, wondering if the mist is going to cool or cook the plants. I assumed the last thing anyone would consider this week is planting — anything!

    July 13, 2014

  • Farmers Market 07-10-14

    What’s at market this week?
    Fruits and veggies: Bell peppers, beets, blackberries, cabbage, carrots, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, green beans, jalapenos, leeks, new potatoes, onions, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes and watermelon
    Baked goods: Biscotti, cakes, cinnamon rolls, cookies, muffins, pies, scones and turnovers

    July 10, 2014

  • Grow! 07-06-14

    Sometimes it can be hard to step out of your comfort zone. This is true for clothing selection, restaurant choices and even the types of plants and shrubs you put in your landscape.

    July 5, 2014

Buy & Share Photos
NewsPress e-Edition
NewsPress Specials
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
NDN Video
Weird 'Wakudoki' Dance Launches Promotional Competition Two women barely avoid being hit by train Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth
Must Read