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‘Nurture fresh thinking for a healthy world’

SHS Garden Journal Blog

Children's Activity - February 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Marvellous Mulch

What kinds of bugs live in the soil?

If you go outside, and dig a little under the leaf litter and into the soil, you might find millipedes, centipedes, slaters and ants. Dig a little deeper and you might find a worm! There are also a lot of tiny bacteria that live in the soil, and we would need a microscope to see them. They are so small, but are very, very important. All of these bugs are important in our garden ecosystem and we can help give them a great habitat to live in by adding mulch to our garden beds. 

Sugar Cane Mulch, or Lucerne Mulch not only add nutrients to the soil as it decomposes or breaks down over time, it also helps to keep the soil moist and provides a home for these creatures to thrive. Bales of organic mulch are available at hardware stores and garden centres.  Or you can collect leaves from your garden or the park – fallen leaves make excellent mulch, and contain the nutrients absorbed from the tree that they fell from. As they break down all this goodness is released into the soil. Leaves are the mulch of a forest floor. 

Mulching the garden beds is a fun job, if you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty!

Kids love mulching. It is one of their favourite jobs in the garden.


You will need:

  • Bale of Organic Sugar Cane Mulch or Lucerne, or
  • Fallen leaves
  • Full watering can


  • Always water down the mulch before using it. We don’t want to breathe in the dust or tiny microorganisms that will be in the mulch. 
  • Keep a watering can handy to keep wetting the top layer down, as you work deeper into the bale.
  • Give the garden a shower with the hose before adding the mulch. The mulch will help to keep the moisture in the soil, and keep the soil microbes alive!
  • Dig into the bale with your hands, and grab a big handful. Place that gently on the garden beds. We aim to cover all the soil in the garden bed to a depth of 5cm. 
  • Leave some space around the roots of plants, about 10cm promoting airflow – to prevent root rot and fungal disease. 
  • Once the whole garden bed is covered, water over the mulch with the hose or watering can. 

What’s so good about mulch?

  1. Adds nutrients to soil.
  2. Water saving.
  3. Habitat for soil life.
  4. Weed reduction.
  5. Soil protection - decreases soil compaction and erosion.
  6. Increased organic matter.
  7. Soil temperature moderation – keeping soil cool in summer and warm in winter.

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