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Using Burlap in the Garden

August 2nd, 2012

A few years ago, I discovered burlap and it’s many uses in the garden. It comes in very handy for a variety of applications and is very inexpensive. Burlap can be found at your local fabric/craft store by the yard.

The best use for burlap is as mulch. When you harvest an area of the garden, lay down a piece of burlap to cover the soil until you plant something else. It will help with moisture retention and to limit erosion of the soil you’ve worked so hard to build. We all know that soil is the most valuable item on our property and we should be doing whatever we can to keep it from eroding away.

Where burlap really shines is for direct seeding in mid-summer. With the heat and lack of rain most gardeners experience this time of year, burlap is a valuable tool to improve germination rates. I have found that laying a piece of burlap over newly sown seeds makes them germinate much faster. Not only does it help keep the area moist by preventing evaporation, it prevents seeds from being washed away when it rains.

I have found burlap to be essential when starting seeds that take a long time to germinate and prefer moist conditions, especially carrots, chervil, dill, and parsley.

To use burlap for seed starting:

  1. sow your seeds following package directions
  2. lay burlap over the seeds
  3. water when the soil gets dry
  4. check daily for germination
  5. when seeds germinate remove burlap


Burlap also comes in quite handy for wrapping plants in winter. If you grow things that are on the edge of your hardiness zone, they’ll appreciate a burlap blanket during the cold winter months. Plants like figs, hydrangeas, and boxwood all love a cozy warm wrapping of burlap. The wrapping doesn’t necessarily keep them warmer, it just protects them fro the desiccating cold winter wind. Sometimes plants don’t need wrapped for weather protections but to keep nibbling deer away. I usually wrap my blueberries for this reason. If you’re uncertain about how to wrap plants, here’s my post about it.

Burlap also comes in handy to protect the root balls of plants while you move them, especially if you can’t replant them right away. You can use small pieces of it in the bottoms of pots to keep the soil in. If you keep some in your garden tool area you’ll find that it comes in handy often!

Do you use burlap in the garden? Any great uses to recommend?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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