In choosing between organic mulch versus inorganic mulch for gardening, you should take into account the type of fruits or vegetables you hope to grow and what they require to flourish in your particular climate. Different fruits and vegetables can require higher or lower acidities, soil temperatures, and moisture levels, and some can require different nutrients altogether. In order to choose between organic and inorganic mulches, you must account for what each has to offer the specific collection of plants that you plan to grow in your garden and decide which will best serve your plants particular needs and meet the requirements of your wallet.
The Virtues Of Organic Mulch
Possibly the biggest virtue of most organic mulches is that they go beyond mere weed control and soil erosion prevention; they actively infuse the soil with nutrients it would not otherwise get. Whether it is composted wood chips or leaves, straw or hay or even coffee grounds or peanut shells, organic mulch offers the soil a boost in one form or another if properly applied. For instance, alfalfa hay, peanut shells and coffee or tea grounds, when used in the proper proportions, can infuse the soil with loads of nitrogen that most garden variety plants greedily consume as they develop. Straw and wood mulch decompose slowly and offer better protection against the elements than do leaves or coffee grounds, especially for plants such as strawberries. By and large, organic mulch will be cheaper than inorganic varieties such as recycled tire mulch as they are usually more readily available.
The Virtues Of Inorganic Mulch
While it might not provide soil nutrients for grateful plants like organic mulch, inorganic mulch certainly offers up its own array of gifts for any garden scene. Whether it is rubber tire mulch, gravel or black plastic sheet mulch, inorganic mulches are the best insulators of soil to be found. They keep the soil temperature high, enhancing helpful bacterial activity and in some cases extending the growth season by keeping the soil warmer for longer. They do not mold nor do they need replacing every one or two years like most organic mulch varieties. Moreover, they are not welcome homes for insects or weeds, nor do they allow heavy leaching of fertilizer. Finally, their non-decomposable nature keeps them from actually draining needed nitrogen from the soil like wood chip mulch will so often do when it has not been properly composted for at least two years.
And The Reigning Champion Is?
If forced to face facts, there can be no single reigning champion in the battle of organic mulch versus inorganic mulch for gardening. The best garden mulch for you will be the one that best suits the particular needs of your plants. Thus, if you plan to primarily grow squash, melon, peppers, cucumbers and eggplant, then the inorganic black plastic mulch might just be what you’re looking for to keep soil temperature high and carbon dioxide concentrated around the base of the plants. On the other hand, if you plan to develop a strawberry patch, then pine needles or straw mulch might best suit your needs.