Mulching is a natural technique that nourishes the soil and promotes the development and growth of plants while protecting them. Mulch can be made of organic, mineral, plastic or textile materials. If it is more or less aesthetic depending on the type chosen, it is a good way to preserve the good health of your soil and your plantations. Let’s review the principle of this method, its advantages and its implementation.
What is mulching ?
In its natural state, the earth is never bare, it is always covered with all kinds of plants and organic matter. Mulching consists of covering the bare soil of the vegetable and pleasure garden in order to nourish and protect it, with what is called mulch. Thus, by laying a bed of organic and mineral materials, especially at the foot of vegetable, tree and flower plantations, they are nourished and preserved from the harshness of winter.
This technique of protection and natural nourishment is applicable everywhere, in the vegetable garden as in the flowerbeds, at the foot of plants, shrubs, trees and even in planters and pots.
What can we make mulch with?
Several materials can be used to make the mulch that will be used to mulch your plants.
- Organic mulches: these are different plant elements such as lawn clippings, prunings of plants and trees, wood chips, dead leaves, etc. These materials rot and degrade more or less quickly to nourish and protect the earth.
- Mineral mulches: these mulches are made of rocks, slates, pottery debris, clay balls, shells and crustaceans, etc. Non-biodegradable, they have an unlimited lifespan, so you don’t have to replace them. They are good solutions for plantations that appreciate the heat, since they help to warm the soil effectively.
- Textile and plastic mulches : this solution is less natural, but effective. These are webs or plastic films deposited on the surface of the ground. If they are effective, they are not really aesthetic.
What are the benefits of mulching?
Mulching is a practice that has many advantages:
- Reduce or avoid the use of weedkillers : mulching the soil prevents weeds from germinating and developing. If the mulch is not a weed killer, it avoids having to weed weeds since it does not allow them to grow.
- Promote plant growth : plants that have a mulch are preserved from many attacks, including high heat, frost, parasites, fungi, etc. This helps them grow better and stay healthier.
- Reduce watering : mulching considerably reduces the evaporation of water from the soil. In periods of high heat, mulching keeps the soil moist at the feet of the plants and reduces their water needs. It is therefore no longer useful to water frequently.
- Promote the development of beneficial insects and microbial life : the insects useful for the well-being of the plantations are attracted by the mulch and settle there during the winter. In addition, it promotes the development of microorganisms that are good for the soil and plants.
- Constitute a natural fertilizer : as it decomposes, the vegetable and organic mulch enriches the soil and serves as fertilizer.
- Protect plantations from soiling : fruits and vegetables are protected from soil dirt and protected from splashes thanks to mulching.
- Reduce the slaking effect : with the vagaries of the weather, the ground settles under the action of the rain, which forms a crust which prevents water from infiltrating. Mulching reduces this effect by protecting the soil.
How to implement it?
In autumn and summer
Do not start at random and choose your mulch according to your plantations and the type of protection desired. Here are the steps to follow for successful mulching:
- Weed the soil where you want to lay the mulch to expose it.
- Water the soil well to make it moist.
- Lay down a layer of mulch about 5 to 7 cm thick and be sure to maintain this thickness if you have opted for an organic mulch, as it decomposes over time. For young plants, limit the thickness to 2 or 3 cm until the plantations develop, then increase.
- Avoid covering the point of separation between the roots and the stem, called the collar.
- Water the soil again after mulching.
Finally, avoid mulching your soil when the wind is strong and when the ground is frozen.
In the fall, the soil is protected before the cold sets in. In the summer, consider raking the mulch if rain is forecast to help it penetrate the soil.
Maintain the mulch so that it protects your plants from the cold.
Remove the mulch to prevent parasites from developing there.