Strange though it may seem, mulching is one of my favorite jobs to do in the garden. Ok it's hard work traipsing wheelbarrows of compost around especially up and down all the steps (thank you Mr Lutyens!), but you don't really have to think and it instantly makes an aesthetic impact on the garden. Plus in this cold wind a good physical job will soon get you warm!
To me mulching is also one of the most important jobs to carry out. We cannot expect the soil to keep supporting these beautiful plants without offering it some goodness back. It completes the daft cycle of gardening- cutting grass, cutting back plants, composting them and then using that compost back on the beds.
Mulching can be carried out from autumn to spring. It is best to do it when the soil is damp (never when frozen) so that as you add the muck you are locking in that moisture for the plants to harness later in the year. We are mulching now as the beds have been too wet to work until now. Last year we did all our mulching in the Autumn before and by the time we had that baking hot March you could really tell which beds we had mulched and which we had not- it was really obvious that it had made a difference and so now I am totally sold on it.
We use our home made, well rotted compost to mulch with. This is a mixture of grass clippings, plant waste, shredded paper from the offices, and waste from the kitchen, mixed with a good helping of horse muck from a local stables. This rich mix is turned from bay to bay over the year. Turning the heap increases the temperature and speeds up the decomposing process and helps kill off any weed seed (although we try not too add any pernicious weeds to the heap). It also mixes all the waste together. By the end of a year we have a bay full of beautifully rotted compost ready to spread on the beds (you can tell when your compost is ready when it stops smelling).
Our mulch gives the soil a good dose of nutrients. I am a big believer in feeding the soil not the plant and this layer of mulch with provide food for months to come.
And the good news is that there is no need for heavy forking. Just spread the mulch across the bed at about 3-4 inches deep and let the worms and microorganisms do the hard work for you.
If you haven't got enough compost at home you can always mulch with bark or with Viridor green waste compost- neither of these will feed the soil for you but they will help to hold in moisture and suppress weeds.
So get mulching....When you get tired do as we do and gee yourself along with a selection of mulching songs. So far we have 'Mulching queen' by Abba, 'I like to mulch it, mulch it' from the film Madagscar, 'Who wants to mulch forever' by Queen.. see what you can come with!