What is mulch and why is everyone talking about it? What can it do for your garden and is it difficult to create? These are questions commonly asked by novice gardeners as they decide to undertake the challenge of growing a verdant yard.
First of all, mulch is decomposed material made up of numerous composted items like bark, gravel, wood chips, sawdust, cardboard etc.. It’s applied to the surface of dirt as a covering to impede the growth of weeds, improve soil fertility and help he soil retain moisture. It is usually organic in nature but does not have to be. What matter is it fertilizes soil safely.
Not only is it extremely helpful, but it enhances aesthetics too when used to layer flower pots or paths. The best time to spread it on a garden is during autumn, early winter, later winter and early spring depending on the climate conditions of where you live. By protecting soil from extreme cold and preventing it from drying out in summer, plants have the ability to flourish for a longer period without much work on your part.
There are different types of mulch and like fertilizer each can do more for specific plantings compared to others. Let’s see what they are.
Straw mulch: Straw has been used as mulch for decades and is still a favorite among many anglers. The main drawbacks are the tendency for weed seeds to get trapped and the relatively high cost though that depends on where you live. If it’s a windy region, you might be confronted with flyaway or if it sees a whole lot of rain, it’ll absorb too much moisture.
The advantages you will receive are easy accessibility to weeds and a substance that packs a good deal of nutrients. It’s especially ideal for newly-seeded lawns if sufficient quantities are put to prevent weeds from getting sunlight . Like straw, it improves soil quality and is especially suited to seedlings. But unlike straw, it harbors no pests or weeds or at the very least, does so in tiny numbers. Fungi too find peat moss to be an inhospitable climbing floor.
Peat moss is expensive since it doesn’t grow everywhere. It develops slowly too and it takes years for the moss to turn into peat so that it’s not very sustainable.
Newspaper and cardboard: Known as sheet mulching, the two commonly used products can make a excellent gardening material for suppressing weeds and adding small quantities of organic matter as they decompose. The effects can be seen within a year once the materials have completely decomposed, leaving rich loam in their place.
The downsides can be troubling especially in areas that see quick pest infestation. Voles, insects and rats can thrive under sheet mulch which defeats the purpose of growing healthy plants. Since paper and cardboard take the time to absorb water, they could prevent it from draining into soil. Of course, once decomposition starts, this is not really an issue.
Note: There is an ongoing debate that coloured ink in newspapers can be risky for soil health so utilize only black ink newsprint to be safe.
Fresh, organic mulch is fantastic for suppressing weeds but doesn’t do much for soil improvement whereas aged organic mulch is rich in nutrients. Where aesthetics matter and soil erosion is widespread, use gravel.