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Ok I am sure some are going to snicker and laugh at me for asking this, but...I keep seeing people refer to mulch. What is mulch and how is it used, what purpose does it have?

Hey, you can't learn if you don't ask! And mulch is one of the nebulous terms that can mean slightly different things in slightly different situations. That's a good link that latebloomer put up.
that is right but if you read and listen you learn so many things here. I didn't use mulch when I first started a garden because I was taught to do a lot of hoeing. Now I use mulch and don't worry much about hoeing. also I don't plant as many vegetables.
The link is perfect. It covers all types of mulch. On the organic side I simply use my grass clipping sread over newspaper to mulch. I continue to add as the season provides clippings and hardly ever do I have to weed as long as I keep up with it.;)
I was taught to pull the weeds and hoe too Lyn. I have to have a load of mulch added to the back in a couple of weeks when my yard man comes again. AWe didn't add mulch in the back last year and I have more weeds especially in my canna and rose bed. I did some cleaning up yesterday in the back. My composting gardening is really helping my clay soil. I pulled some weeds and they came right up compared to when I pull them from the clay. My beds and yard have so much clover. My neighbors do too.
I always used mulch in my gardens as it does cut down on the weeds and keeps the roots of the plants cooler and does make the gardens look more maicured. When I first read Crabbers suggestion years ago, on using news paper and grass clipping I did that on the paths of the garden and it worked out really well.
If you use wood chip as mulch just remember to fluff it up a couple of times during the season as it can get compacted.
At my sisters house the previous owners used Lavar rock and weed cloth on all the beds. What a horror having to work with that stuff when I redesigned those beds.She insisted that I put the lavar rock back on the beds at the foundation of the house because she didn't want wood chip next to the foundation.
I have always used mulch around my flowers but this year I am going to use red mulch around my tomatoes. I found out last year by accident that tomatoes grow a lot better with mulch around them. I had a couple of volunteers come up last year in my mulch around the front porch. They grew bigger and better tomatoes than the ones in the garden. They were also cleaner and I didn't find any that the bottom of the tomato was rotted. Found lots of bottom rot in the garden even on some green ones.
mulch is a protective cover placed over the soil, primarily to modify the effects of the local climate straw, hays and leaves are good examples. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to