Jim’s Garden Adventure 2017 Chapter 4 “Spreadin’ My Vegetable Garden Mulch”


Time To Lay Out The Vegetable Garden Mulch!

Jim's garden ready for mulching.


As of the early part of May, the veggies in my backyard garden were coming along and they were finally big enough that I could stop weeding with my electric or gas tiller, hula hoe, and push-pull hoe…and start gatherin’ up my compost ’cause it’s time to spread out my vegetable garden mulch!

Earlier this spring, I raked up a boatload of leaves…about 50 heaping tote boxes full of them.  I actually bagged the leaves and stored the bags in anticipation of using the leaves as my main garden mulching component when the time came to utilize them.


Time to Mulch

Tote box full of leaves for mulching.

I began the mulching process by laying out several layers of newspaper or cardboard…topping it off with several inches of leaf mulch.  Don’t do this on a windy day unless you want to chase newspapers all over the garden!

Of course, when I started my garden mulching, there was almost no wind.  But as soon as I started laying down newspapers, what do you think happened?  Yep…the wind kicked up and gave me fits.

There are two methods I use to conquer the wind factor…

  • Wet down the papers to keep them in place.
  • Throw a little mulch in strategic areas on the papers to hold them in position.

Two layers of newspaper under the mulch.

I prefer the latter.  For me, it is much easier to throw a little mulch on the newspapers than grab the garden hose every few minutes and wet them down. 

To make sure I had enough papers to finish the job, I only used two layers…even though my preference would have been to use three or four layers.

TIP #1:  Use only biodegradable newspaper or cardboard.  Slick-covered material commonly used in newspaper advertisement inserts…and plastic tape typically found on boxes…do not compost well and we want everything to become one with the soil by the end of the growing season.

TIP #2: Never throw away newspaper and cardboard.  There are so many uses for them and being a part of the mulching process is just one of their advantages.  For my garden, I used every Sunday newspaper I bought since last fall and every cardboard box I had acquired in that same period.



My first priority was mulching around the plants to keep the weeds from choking them.  I was thoroughly amazed how quickly I went through all 50 bags of leaves!  I thought that I would have more than enough to mulch between the rows but, I barely had enough leaves to cover the row areas between the veggie plants.

Mulching around bell pepper plants.Mulching around lettuce plants.Mulching around cucumber plants.





Mulching around okra plants.Mulching around nasturtiums.Mulching around marigolds.





This behooved me to search for other free sources of mulch material.  Because, I certainly was not about to go bankrupt buying mulch for a 2,500 square foot garden!

As luck would have it, I spotted a tree removal crew at work in a nearby neighborhood and I offered them a place to dump their wood chips…a win-win situation…is it not?

Jim's wood chip pile.

They were happy to oblige but apologized for the fact that they only had half a load on their 5-ton truck.  Believe me when I say that half a truckload was more than sufficient to finish the garden.  I actually had enough wood chips left over to mulch all my bushes and flower beds as well!

After filling a fair number of tote boxes, you wouldn’t believe what appeared inside that big wood chip pile!

Stump in the wood chip pile.


It Was a Big Ole’ Tree Stump!

The tree removal crew decided to forgo chipping the last piece…the stump…and just threw it in the back of the truck on top of the wood chips.  Then, when they dumped it in my driveway, the stump was buried inside.  I didn’t notice it until I made a sizeable dent in the pile.  But…there it was…starting to stick out…getting bigger and bigger as I dug deeper and deeper into the pile.

I estimate that it was about a 200 pound chunk of wood!

I finally exposed enough of that stump to remove it from the pile and, using my handy-dandy dolly, I relocated it to my woods and gave the squirrels their own bench from which to watch me mulching my garden.

Jim's garden completely mulched.

Mulching a section at a time over the course of 3 to 4 weeks…row-by-row…the garden was finally completed.

Jim's watermelon patch is mulched.

And, I think, it looks pretty darn good!  I even had enough left over to “newspaper + cardboard + mulch” the watermelon patch!

It took over a hundred tote boxes full of wood chips to finish the entire undertaking.  Add that to the 50 tote boxes of leaves, and this year’s garden has a tremendous amount of compost material that will help keep the soil cool and moist, add plant nutrition to the soil for next year, and guard against the dreaded weeds that seem to be the healthiest and strongest green plant in every backyard garden.

Take a look at Jim’s Garden Adventure 2017 Chapter 5 “Pickin’ Produce”

Return to Jim’s Garden Adventure’s main page


Question of the Day

Well, this sure wasn't a weed, was it?

Early in the growing process, it can be difficult to differentiate between weeds and veggies in your garden.

So, pray tell…how can you tell the difference?

Well, if the plants come out of the ground easily when you pull on them, they are probably a vegetable plant.

‘Nuff said…


Short joke…not “mulch” more to say…


Even though I don’t have “mulch” more to say, I bet you do!  Say something in the comments section or zap me an email: jim@perfect-vegetable-garden.com.


Jim, the Lifelong Gardener

2 thoughts on “Jim’s Garden Adventure 2017 Chapter 4 “Spreadin’ My Vegetable Garden Mulch”

  1. Del Reply

    Fantastic looking garden you’ve got there and growing my own veg is definitely something I’d love to do if I had a garden big enough. I’ve had to settle for growing strawberries (which I’m getting in abundance this year) and raspberries, which are just starting to produce. I’m going to give the mulching a try (even if it just helps stop those pesky slugs it’ll be a winner lol)

    • Jim Reply

      Welcome to my website, Del!

      It is definitely a perk to be able to have enough space to spread out as I have in my current garden.  But, I have had much smaller sizes in the past; including a garden in a closet with grow lights when I lived in an apartment with no outside access for my veggie plants.

      Glad to hear your strawberries and raspberries are coming along!

      Any mulching will be a positive for your garden plants…and a little is better than none at all.

      Take care,


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