Thanks to its natural aroma, cedar mulch is a great pick if you’d wish to repel bugs organically. However, cedar mulch is amongst the priciest options. You may spend over four times as much on cedar shavings as you would wood shavings.
This guide explains everything to know about cedar shavings in vegetable garden.
Cedar is not safe for garden beds that need frequent tilling. However, you can put cedar mulch around vegetable plants in low and no-till farms. With proper use, cedar is not toxic to plants but instead benefits them by preserving moisture, repelling harmful bugs, suppressing weeds, and more.
Can You Put Cedar Mulch Around Vegetable Plants?
Adding cedar shaving to your vegetable garden is an excellent way to provide many advantages. However, you want to use it on perennial veggies that don’t require much tilling, like asparagus. Mixing the shaving with the soil while tilling lowers Nitrogen, a crucial element in plant growth.
Cedar shavings age slower than normal wood mulches. In fact, if you have to replace your wood chips after a year, a similar cedar mulch amount may last you two years.
They are more resistant to insect damage. Besides, few insects feed on or create dwellings within your shavings, given their bug-repellent scent.
That said, longevity may not always be an advantage. It takes longer for cedar shavings to decompose. So, they deliver nutrients at twice a slower pace.
For that reason, you may need to add more manure or fertilize to your garden when using cedar instead of mixed wood chips. This way, you’ll ensure you supply ample nutrients to your vegetables.
Benefits of Cedar Shavings in Vegetable Garden
Despite its priciness, cedar shavings are worth it to reduce irrigation needs, avoid pesky bugs eating your plants, spreading diseases, and more.
Here’s the breakdown of the benefits.
Cedar shavings, like other mulches, block sunlight. As with other plants, weeds require sunlight to germinate. So, if you wish to minimize the weeding prevalence to only once per year or so, cover your garden with a generous cedar mulch.
Day and night changes and a shift in weather elements dramatically impact soil temperature. Especially during spring, you can have over 50-degree temperature differences between night and day.
In some cases, significant temperature differences occur from one day to the next. The highest recorded was a 57-degree difference in Montana between two mornings.
With cedar mulch around your plants, you moderate the soil temperature. The shavings act as an insulating blanket to the garden surface.
During scorching days, the mulched soil remains cooler than the exposed plots. Conversely, the covered soil is slightly warmer than exposed areas during chilly conditions.
Temperature moderation is essential for feeder roots positioned just below your garden soil. So, having a two-inch layer of cedar shaving around your plants promotes their thriving during extreme heat or cold.
Top Soil Preservation
Cedar mulch protects the soil from heavy downpours, which result in run-offs that wash the topsoil away.
Retaining the topsoil is imperative as it’s the most nutrient-rich layer. Should it erode, you’ll need to rehabilitate your garden to ensure your plants receive enough nutrients to flourish.
The topsoil is the most aerated, providing a suitable supply of air to plant roots for proper growth.
Moreover, as rain strikes the protected ground, it penetrates deeply into the soil. Hence, it helps supply adequate moisture to the plant roots, ensuring continued nourishment.
Cedar mulch covering your garden blocks disease spores from spewing onto the leaves during rainy or windy weather. So, if seeking organic methods to keep your garden disease-free, cedar mulch is an excellent choice.
Adding cedar mulch to your garden lowers the evaporative effects of direct sunlight on the soil. Mulching conserves up to two-thirds of water from evaporation.
As your plants grow, the covered soil around them preserves all the water they need to flourish. So, mulching is also an excellent way to establish newly established plants. With a suitable layer of cedar mulch around your plants, you’ll lower watering incidences.
Compaction is amongst the worst things to subject your soil as this affects plant growth negatively. With compacted soils, your plants’ roots find it challenging to penetrate.
Inability to grow hampers the roots’ ability to reach adequate nutrients and moisture. Hence, the plants end up exhausting the supplies around them and begin struggling for more. With time, stunting sets in, which lowers yields.
Placing cedar mulch around the farm promotes loose soil. The cedar shavings act as a mattress from the impact of your steps. That shouldn’t mean you should walk in your garden on a daily basis. But if you need to weed, harvest, add plants, take samples, besides similar tasks, do so.
Is Cedar Safe for Garden Beds? Disadvantages
Cedar shavings are light. They may not be the best option for your garden in highly windy areas. Violent storms carry the shavings off of mulched areas which means you’ll have to keep topping up the layer often.
Plus, you don’t want shaving flying off your garden into the well-manicured lawn, verandah, or road.
There are no trees to hamper powerful winds in a garden unless practicing agroforestry. Plus, most garden plants are small-sized. So, before using cedar shavings or any light mulches in your garden, ensure your area’s wind strength is low.
How Does Cedar Affect Soil? Nitrogen Depletion
As with all decaying woody mulches, cedar shavings consume Nitrogen when decomposing.
However, this depletion only occurs at the uppermost layer, with the subsequent topsoil retaining most of its Nitrogen supplies. Since roots grow to lower areas, they won’t have an issue in nitrogen-rich environments.
Trouble comes when you frequently till around your veggies and work the cedar shavings into the soil. Mixed with the top soil’s middle and lower layers, wooden mulch lowers Nitrogen amounts. So, be sure to maintain the shaving on the surface.
Moreover, consider including starchy vegetables like peas and beans with your other plants. Since starchy veggies are leguminous, they conduct the fixation process converting Nitrogen into nitrates.
Nitrates contribute to chlorophyll formation, vital in food production in green plants. Hence, these nitrates ensure ample nourishment for your non-leguminous plants to grow healthily.
Cedar shavings aren’t the best option for your garden if you have issues with scents. While the smell makes cedar an attractive choice for organic scent-repelling, it may cause complications to smell-allergic individuals.
Some may have watery eyes, experience skin irritation, have running noses, breathing difficulties, among others.
Will Cedar Mulch Hurt My Plants? Repels Beneficial Bugs
Insects are the most crucial pollination agents alongside wind. While there are other pollination facilitators, these two are the most prominent.
You may think that the wind may do the work for you after getting bugs off your garden. That isn’t so. For one, the insect-transferred pollen grains are heavier than wind-pollinated counterparts, making it challenging to float to other flowers.
Also, the stigmas of insect-pollinated flowers are hotter and smoother than in wind-pollinated ones. Stigma act as passageways during flower fertilization. So, if they stay hidden inside the flowers and are smooth, catching pollen is challenging. That’s if the wind could carry the pollen.
Repellant smells in your garden may drive off bugs. But, you want to be sure that not all bugs are out of your garden. It would be challenging for veggies that rely on insect pollination.
Additionally, some insects eat bugs, like aphids. So, such insects should stick around to help you keep your plants healthy.
Is Cedar Toxic to Plants? Soil Clogging
In high rainfall, low-lying areas that tend to become swampy, it may not be best to use cedar mulch or any alternative. Boggy soil shouldn’t have anything covering them.
Gardens with a potential for waterlogging, for instance, clay soils, need sunlight to help evaporate excess moisture. Too much moisture causes root rot, hence plant death.
Can You Put Cedar Shavings Around Tomato Plants?
You can put cedar shavings around tomato plants to achieve various benefits. With these shavings, you’ll hardly need to weed, which means you won’t disturb the soil around your plants. Plus, you’ll cushion the leaves and fruits from disease spores spewing on them.
However, since tomato plants mature in two to three months, you’ll need to plant new veggies sooner. Push shavings to the side before tilling, which you don’t need, to avoid Nitrogen deficiency.
Does Cedar Mulch Affect Soil pH?
While some assume so, cedar mulch is unlikely to affect soil pH. With the tendency of these trees to grow in acidic environments, you may think the mulch lowers pH, but it likely won’t happen.
With cedar mulch on your farm and letting foliage fall on top of it, you create a better, organic environment. As the mulch disintegrates over time, it adds lots of humus to your soil, enhancing its value and improving its health.
In short, adding cedar shavings in vegetable garden ensures you get the best that mulch offers while also improving your soil.