When in doubt, mulch it!

This time of year, one of the best tools you have for keeping the soil moist in your garden is mulch. No matter what type you use, it helps the soil hang onto its moisture and it impedes the growth of weeds... not all of them, unfortunately, but we'll take all the help we can get, right?

In our artichoke bed (top photo), I've mulched the bed with grass clippings. We don't put any chemicals on our lawn so they are safe to use around edible crops like veggies and berries. And actually, I wouldn't use grass clippings from a lawn treated with weed and feed on any types of plants, so you'll want to skip using them if you know they've been treated.

Some folks use straw but that's risky because there's usually quite a lot of weed seeds mixed into the bale. So that's one material I avoid altogether.

In beds planted with ornamentals (bottom photo) like annuals, perennials and shrubs, I like to use a thick layer of bark mulch. It's not the prettiest material around but I think it also makes the beds look really tidy. And at least it's a natural material!

Another mulching material you can use is shredded leaves. As they decompose, they'll add a lot of nutrients to the soil. The only downside to them is if the leaves are dry and it's windy out, a lot of them will blow away which can be aggravating.

But no matter what material you use, your plants will thank you for mulching them so they can withstand our toasty summer temperatures.