What is safe to use as mulch or compost in a garden?

As a gardening enthusiast, you must know the importance of mulch. Mulch is spread over the soil near plants or vegetables to prevent soil drying, erosion, and weed growth. Mulch can be made from a variety of materials such as wood chips, sawdust, straw, dry leaves, twigs, etc. Actually, anything you use to compost can usually be used as a mulch. But the difference between mulch and compost is that compost is spread on top of the soil whereas compost is best introduced into the soil by digging because compost is the natural fertilizer for vegetables. So, for the mulch, just spread them out on top of the soil near the vegetables and moisten them with water.

Almost all plant debris (prunings, cuttings, fallen leaves, etc.) can be used as mulch. But when it comes to Oleander, you have to be careful. Oleander is an evergreen plant that can grow to heights of 6 to 12 feet and up to 20 feet wide. It blooms between summer and early fall. The size of the flower is approximately 1 ½ inches in diameter. They can have single or double petals with colors such as white, red, pink, pink, salmon, or magenta. Found mainly in South Asia and the Mediterranean, every part of the oleander is poisonous, especially its milky sap. In fact, eating just a few leaves can kill a small child. The leaves of the plant are also coated with a certain type of dust that can make you sick if you breathe it into your lungs or come in contact with it on your skin. Dust is especially abundant in summer when it is dry and hot. So if you want to prune or cut back an oleander plant, do it after a heavy rain. Also, protect yourself with gloves so as not to come into contact with the sap. So can oleander be used as a mulch or compost?

Research shows that when Oleander is added to the compost pile, its toxin known as oleandrin is depleted after 50 days. So when the compost is added to the soil, it does not harm the vegetables. Studies with lettuce (which are fast-flowering vegetables) and tomatoes (which are slow to ripen for harvest) did not detect Oleander toxicants in them. But using Oleander as a mulch is riskier because the Oleander parts aren’t as broken down as they are in compost. Therefore, it is better to be safe than sorry. If you want to use oleanders as a mulch, use them on ornamental plants (such as flowers) but not on vegetables.

If adding Oleander to your compost, allow the compost to mature for more than 50 days and make sure every part of the plant is decomposed and no longer visible in its original form before using the compost. Even then, always wash vegetables well before cooking and eating. This is good practice anyway.

By taking these necessary precautions, you can use Oleander as a mulch or compost.

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