Mulch to give more time for greenhouse activities

The Times has been extolling the virtues of mulch, noting that it can make a "truly poetic contribution" to the garden.

Mulching is especially useful at this time of year as not only can it beautify the garden by making pots and borders look much tidier, it can protect the soil from the elements.

Wind can erode unprotected soil over autumn and winter and frost can play havoc with plants roots.

A layer of mulch will mitigate against this and mean that plants are in a healthier state in the spring.

It is also important in the summer months too – mulch helps the soil retain moisture by slowing down evaporation.

The cheapest mulch can be made from home-made composts – not only is this inexpensive, it enriches the soil too giving added value.

For the more aesthetically-minded, tumbled glass, gravel or slate can be used as well as crushed shells and shredded bark.

A good mulch also acts as a pest deterrent and weed suppressant, but weeds should be dug out before applying, according to the Royal Horticultural Society.

The weed-suppressing properties of mulch also mean that a gardener can spend less time weeding and more time in the greenhouse.