How much mulch do you buy every year for your vegetable garden? Growing ‘living mulch’ is cheaper, a lot less work, and better for your soil.

Living mulch is a thick ground cover of perennial and self-seeding plants – producing mulch right where you need it.  It’s better for your soil because plants supply:

  • Leaves and other organic materials to cover the surface of your soil and in your soil from their roots.
  • Root exudates (the sugars and proteins in root exudates to feed mycorrhizal fungi and other microbes in your soil).
  • Opportunities to solve issues like compacted soil, nitrogen deficiencies, inadequate pollination and pest problems using ecological support plants in your species.

“But how do I use this approach in my vegetable garden?”

Growing cover crops and green manures between cropping cycles is relatively easy because we kill these plants before planting our veggies. But growing annual veggies among a dense cover of other plants is more tricky.


We’re trialling growing living mulch in our market garden and have had some fun creating our first video to show you how we went!

The video will give you some useful ideas for your own vegetable garden, and there are some additional resources below the video.


Helen Atthowe has trialled growing living mulch in different types of vegetables for over 20 years on her Montana farm. Check out Helen Atthowe’s videos:

  1. Part 1 and Part 2
  2. the longer version – Reduced Tillage in Organic Vegetable production

Have you been experimenting growing your vegetables in living mulch? Do you know other people who have? It would be great to get together some other examples. Please let us know.

    2 replies to "Living mulch – ideal way to mulch your veggies"

    • John Brisbin

      Great advice and demo. Would be interested to exchange lists of “companion” or succession plantings that work together in the same beds (like your pumpkin over cowpea combo). Thanks for the video!

    • Wendy Seabrook

      Hi John,
      Yes, it would be great to bring together information on living mulch – veggie combo’s other people have experimented with. So if you are already experimenting with growing your vegetables in mulch producing cover crops – please let us know. And if you want to give it a go – it would be great if you could let us know how you get on in these comments. Thanks Wendy

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