Best mulch options for your garden
You simply must mulch!!! I don't know how many times I have told people to mulch after giving them gardening advice, only for them to come back later and still not have mulched.
It does three things: it keeps water in the soil and prevents it from evapourating AND it keeps the soil temperature warm AND it supresses weeds.
Mulching can be the difference between your vegetables surviving and dying.
YOU SIMPLY MUST MULCH!
(but not over seeds because they will struggle to sprout)
Lucerne is a plant that when dried looks like straw. It is the most common mulch for vegetable gardening (along with no. 2 below). It is what I personally use. Apply according to directions, but you do want it to be at least 2cm thick. I water the lucerne down, and then pat it down and water it again. This helps prevent it blowing away. Organic is better. You can place a very light sprinkling over seeds waiting to sprout and small seedlings to help with evapouration and build as they grow.
2. Pea straw
This is made from pea plants that have died. It again looks a lot like straw. There isn't much of a difference between lucerne and pea straw. It doesn't add any more nitrogen to the soil than lucerne because nitrogen fixing nodules which legumes have are attached to the roots which are not included. As with lucerne organic is better and you can place around small seedlings.
I do not recommend this for vegetable gardens. One of the benefit of straw mulches is that they naturally break down and improve the soil. Bark takes far too long to do this to be of any benefit. In addition, it cannot be used at all over seeds waiting to sprout because they will not be able to push through the mulch.
Rocks might look pretty but they don't have a place in a vegetable garden. They do not decompose an add nutrients to the soil, and it makes it very difficult to plant season to season. Just don't go there!
Seed saving envelopes