Now is a good time to mulch garden vegetables if you haven’t done so already. Mulches provide several benefits including weed prevention, reduced watering due to less evaporation and cooler soils that enhance root growth. Straw and hay are popular mulches in Kansas due to their availability. However, both may contain weed seeds that will germinate if the thatch layer is not thick enough. Grass clippings can also be used if the lawn has not been treated with weed killers. Add only a thin layer of clippings at a time and allow to dry for 2 to 3 days before adding more. A thick layer will form a mold that is almost impervious to water. A mulch layer one-half to three-quarters inch thick is about right for grass clippings but hay or straw should be at a depth of 2 to 4 inches. (Ward Upham)
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Ward Upham is the Kansas State Master Gardener Coordinator and runs the Horticulture Response Center. Other contributors include K-State Extension Specialists.