Sugarcane straw mulch
Liam advocates for sugarcane straw as a mulching marvel for your vegetable patch.
“Sugar cane straw, which is $15-$20 per large bag, is usually more than enough for the average-sized veggie patch," he says.
“It provides a layer that will help reduce weed growth while also keeping soil moisture in and provides nutrients when it breaks down in the soil.”
Cardboard and paper shredding
Cardboard and paper make a great cheap mulch that could be sourced for free. It also helps to keep weeds under control. However, Liam says the only downside is that “they don’t produce many nutrients when broken down into the soil.”
Here's how to lay cardboard mulch.
While not technically a mulch, coffee grounds can work wonders for your soil and can usually be sourced for free.
“Coffee grounds are great for feeding the soil when mixed with other organic matter as they contain high levels of nitrogen and potassium, although are quite acidic, so it’s best not to use it as the only soil conditioner. They also don’t promote weed growth and will help keep soil moisture.”
Free wood chip mulch
Consider reaching out to tree removal companies for free wood chip mulch. However, this can’t be used on your vegetable garden because it takes too long to break down, but it is great for the rest of your garden.
“They usually dump it at your property for free,” says Liam.
Better Homes and Gardens gardening editor Jenny Dillon says you can make your own mulch from fallen leaves.
"Collect fallen leaves – autumn for exotics, spring for natives – place in large bin bags, soak leaves, tie tops, punch small holes in the bottom of the bags and leave in a shady spot for a year," says Jenny.
"Soak leaves and turn them every fortnight. Then you’ll have leaf mould you can put on garden beds."
Read more about leaf mulching.
Downsides of cheap mulch
The only thing to be careful of when sourcing cheap mulch for your garden is that it can sometimes contain unwanted weeds.
"Cheap mulch can have weeds and weed seeds through it and can cause more problems than none," says Liam. "It can bring in unwanted pests and diseases which could affect desired vegetables."
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