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Give your beds a good mulch4 February 2014
Give your beds a good mulch of well-rotted farmyard manure at this time of year and you'll set them up perfectly for the year ahead.
Mulching is the gardener's magic wand: at a stroke you can deal with feeding, watering, weeding and soil care, plus a bit of frost protection to boot, with just a few bags of good-quality organic matter from the garden centre. It's one of those trade secrets which transforms your veg-growing life.
Start with a quick weed-through to take care of any annual weeds which have popped up over winter, then cover the ground with a layer around 5cm thick around perennials and shrubs, as well as fruit bushes, canes and permanent crops like asparagus in the veg garden. Top it up throughout the year, adding more between rows of just-sown seeds and around young plants too (avoid mulching right up to a stem, though, or you could encourage rotting).
Mulching traps in water while keeping weed seeds out. As the worms pull it down into the soil it also opens up the soil texture, boosting the millions of micro-organisms which help keep it healthy. You'll notice the difference in higher yields, healthier plants and a lovely, crumbly, open soil that's a joy to work with.