How much do you spend on mulch every year for your vegetable beds? Have you thought of growing vegetables with living mulch instead? Living mulch is a mixture of perennial and self-seeding ground cover plants grown to provide a permanent living ground cover.[1]

Growing living mulch is cheaper and less back-breaking than spreading mulch, and more eco-logical![2]

We trialled living mulch in our market garden at Hill Top Farm, [3] and discuss some of the benefits in the video below.

We started out using one species, but ideally living mulch should be a mixture of plants. A growing body of research shows that we speed up improvements to the health of our soil by cultivating a diversity of plants.[4]

Growing vegetables with living mulch is tricky. That’s why it’s not commonly done.  Most gardeners and commercial producers grow cover crops or green manures between cropping cycles. These plant mixtures help improve soil health, but need to be slashed, rolled or worked into the top of the soil before vegetables are planted.

Photo showing

Silver Beet growing in a living mulch of White Clover (© Wendy Seabrook)

Additional Resources

Click here to watch video on growing living mulch
  1. How to Grow Living Mulch
  2. Compost and Biological Fertilisers – Are they Regenerative Practices?
  3. Helen Atthowe trialled growing living mulch with different vegetables for over 20 years on her Montana farm. Check out Helen Atthowe’s videos: Part 1 and Part 2 and the longer version – Reduced Tillage in Organic Vegetable production
  4. Good Life Permaculture uses living mulch with their perennial vegetables in Tasmania.

Our handbook on Living Mulch for farmers and gardeners takes you through a series of straightforward, tried and tested steps to prepare your site and select species producing a dense ground cover. The handbook is 100% focused on helping you achieve practical outcomes – saving you the time and trouble of finding your own way.

Front cover of the learning from Nature publication - Living Mulch

References – How to grow Vegetables with Living Mulch

[1] Wendy Seabrook, 2021, Living Mulch, Published by Learning from Nature

[2] Wendy Seabrook, 2019, How to grow Living Mulch, Learning from Nature

[3] We no longer have the market garden – concentrating on growing perennial crops instead. Hill Top Farm is the education centre and demonstration site for Learning from Nature. Located in the dry-wet tropics in far northern Australia.

[4] Wendy Seabrook, 2022, Eco-logical Farming Handbook, Publ Learning from Nature

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