Week 11 – Mulching

Mulching is one of the simplest and most beneficial practices you can use in the garden. Mulch is simply a protective layer of a material that is spread on top of the soil. Mulches can either be organic — such as grass clippings, straw, bark chips, and similar materials — or inorganic — such as stones, brick chips, and plastic.
Both organic and inorganic mulches have numerous benefits:
Protects the soil from erosion;
Reduces compaction from the impact of heavy rains;
Conserves moisture, reducing the need for frequent waterings;
Maintains a more even soil temperature;
Prevents weed growth;
Keeps fruits and vegetables clean;
Keeps feet clean, allowing access to garden even when damp;
Provides a “finished” look to the garden.

Organic mulches also improve the condition of the soil. As these mulches slowly decompose, they provide organic matter which helps keep the soil loose. This improves root growth, increases the infiltration of water, and also improves the water-holding capacity of the soil. Organic matter is a source of plant nutrients and provides an ideal environment for earthworms and other beneficial soil organisms.

One method of mulching is to lay down a layer of newspaper and then cover with compost. One can do this on pathways as well as between rows in our vegetable beds. Compost can then be turned under for our spring planting providing an excellent source of plant nutrients.

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