Mulches for the garden continued

Print Article

Many growers and gardeners regularly use crop residues including straw, hay, grass clippings, or leaves as mulches or cover and green manure crops which can be tilled into the soil. These types of mulches biodegrade well and can add valuable nutrients to the soil, assuming they have not been treated with pesticides, which are harmful to plants and animals. Sometimes these sources provide habitat for rodents or provide weed seed sources, so all materials should be used with caution.

In contrast, so called biodegradable mulches (BDM) have been in use since the 1980s to address the environmental deficiencies posed by the use of plastics. Many biodegradable mulch replacement products are bio-based. BDMs should not have any synthetic materials and are generally derived from natural sources, as opposed to plastics.

BDMs are not petroleum based or have non-bio-based additives and have not been chemically modified. They all use some form of plant starch bonded with polymers or plasticizers derived from renewable crops that binds them together.

To meet organic standards and biodegradability tests, BDMs are supposed to break down into non-harmful constituents, meet the ASTM standard for compatibility with at least 90 percent degradation within 24 months. Currently, paper mulch which meets the National Organic Program standard and deteriorates very quickly, is the only approved BDM that meet the USDA organic standard. However, a number of other products are becoming available which provide improved benefits.

A USDA SCRI (Specialty Crop Research Initiative) BDM multi-year 2015-2019 grant led by a tri-university group of researchers from University of Tennessee, Washington State University and Montana State University has been studying available mulches through field trials at the experiment stations in Mt. Vernon, Wash. and Knoxville, Tenn., testing products and grower perceptions on farms in each state (even near here at an Ephrata farm), determining and assessing BDM environmental and soil impacts and break down components, and evaluating costs and adoptability. Many of the tested products are available commercially. To learn more about the studies, costs and benefits for gardeners and farmers or to try a product go to ag.tennessee.edu/biodegradablemulch/Pages/usdascriproject.aspx

For answers to gardening questions, contact the Master Gardeners at the WSU Grant-Adams Extension office at 754-2011, ext. 4313 or email your gardening questions to ga.mgvolunteers@wsu.edu. Visit our web page at grant-adams.wsu.edu.

Print Article

Read More Bits & Pieces

What does it mean to be a WSU Master Gardener?

December 14, 2018 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald Today we continue with more questions and answers about what the Washington State University (WSU) Master Gardener (MG) Program is all about. Is there a cost to attend the training? Fees for volunt...

Comments

Read More

Gillespie and Bellamy honored in 1981

December 14, 2018 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald E-mail from Cheryl Facts from the past gleaned from the Moses Lake Herald, Columbia Basin Herald and The Neppel Record by Cheryl (Driggs) Elkins: From the CBH on Dec. 8, 1981: Pins awarded Two Ba...

Comments

Read More

What does it mean to be a WSU Master Gardener?

December 07, 2018 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald Many people are curious about what the Washington State University (WSU) Master Gardener (MG) Program is all about. Here are some questions and answers. What is a Master Gardener? Anyone can use th...

Comments

Read More

Where was the Roller Dome in 1949?

December 07, 2018 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald E-mail from Cheryl Facts from the past gleaned from the Moses Lake Herald, Columbia Basin Herald and The Neppel Record by Cheryl (Driggs) Elkins: From the CBH on April 1, 1949: USO to take over bu...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(509) 765-4561
PO Box 910
Moses Lake, WA 98837

©2018 Columbia Basin Herald Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X