t is very tempting in the spring to apply a wood mulch, such as Cedar, fir or bark Mulches and chips down the center of your vegetable rows, creating walking paths that will also help reduce weed growth, but it is not something that we would recommend.
Wood mulches tend to remove nitrogen from the soil when they first begins to break down and as most vegetables require some nitrogen for proper growth, they tend to suffer if they have to compete for this essential nutrient. Also, as your vegetable garden is constantly in flux, replant can be hindered by the cedar mulch. Cedar mulch can take up to 10 years to completely break down, therefore also posing the problem of tilling the garden bed every spring. There have also been instances where the cedar may begins to release toxic substances that may damage or kill tender young vegetables.
Wood Mulches are wonderful, but they are best used in permanent garden beds where the soil does not require tilling or replanting on a regular basis. They are also a fabulous cover for garden paths, creating blasts of colour and a soft surface to walk on.
Better choices for your vegetable garden would be an organic compost, leave mold, landscape fabric, plastic sheets, newspaper, or even straw. It would be worth while doing a little research to determine which is best type for the varieties of vegetables that you are trying to grow. None of these will deprive the nutrient levels from the soil, and some of them will actually increase the nutrient levels.