To mulch or not to mulch - that is the question. Let's look at the pros and cons of various types of mulch for your garden and vegetable garden.
Mulching can be called the world garden trend. The idea of harboring the beds of various materials agrotechnics peeped from the wildlife. Just remember the untouched forest: trees and shrubs are securely "wrapped" in a soft blanket of fallen leaves and needles.
Often, mulch is mistakenly regarded as a panacea for all the ills of the garden: it will protect the plants from drought and free the host from weeding, and improve the quality of the soil. It would seem a solid benefit! However, not all mulch is good for your garden, especially in excessive quantities.
Let's understand the types of mulch and its purpose.
The mulch, useful to a kitchen garden, has to carry out the following functions:
- retain moisture;
- stabilize the soil and prevent its erosion;
- delay the growth of weeds (acting as an alternative to chemical herbicides);
- increase the biological activity in the soil (as a nutrient medium for microorganisms);
- enrich the soil with minerals (due to slow decomposition);
- improve the soil structure over time (if properly used);
- ideally - to have an attractive appearance and not to violate the integrity of the landscape design of your site.
What fits the role of good mulch? In fact, there are enough options - for every taste and wallet.
Bark of coniferous trees
The bark of pine and larch is ideal for use as mulch. This is a natural, environmentally friendly material that decomposes well, promotes soil drainage, making it more moisture and breathable. In addition, it has a noble dark color that does not lose its saturation under the influence of rain and sun. It is easy to find on sale, and it costs quite reasonable money. Suitable for mulching pristvolnyh circles of trees and shrubs, as well as flower beds and flower beds.
The mixture to improve the quality of the soil may include peat, sapropel, crushed bark of conifers, etc. It can be used not only "internally" - when preparing the soil for planting, but also "externally" - as a mulch. Soil conditioner is good for mulching beds and flower beds.
Some gardeners do not use straw as mulch, fearing that it will start to flour. Yes, it really retains moisture, but begins to rot only in the greenhouse.
The soil, covered with a straw cover, becomes loose, "breathes" well, does not require frequent watering even in dry summer. You can forget about choppers and cultivators!
Straw can cover berry and vegetable beds. During heavy rains, the straw layer will protect the fruit from contact with the ground, and hence rotting. But with shrubs better not to overdo it: if you put the straw too thick layer, it will slow the growth of young shoots.
Straw that has served mulch is great for composting.
It is difficult to come up with a more "natural" type of mulch than fallen conifer needles. If there are pines or spruces growing on your plot, consider yourself lucky!
True, there is one important nuance: green coniferous needles cannot be mulched young, actively growing plants. In the "fresh" needles contains terpene, which inhibits the development of sprouts. But in the brown needles of this chemical is no longer there, so they are absolutely safe. Green needles can be used for mulching crops that love sour soil, but only during flowering and fruiting.
Green needles will protect plants from the invasion of slugs and snails.
How much force we put in the fall to clear the garden of fallen leaves ... But in vain! Foliage is a great winter "fur coat" for perennials. In addition, the leaf cover protects the soil from drying out and erosion and promotes the reproduction of earthworms.
The next time you find yourself in the forest, try to raise the layer of fallen leaves - the earth beneath them is alive in the full sense of the word.
Of course, small pebbles do not increase the biological activity of the soil, but are indispensable in rainy areas, as they protect the soil from leaching. In addition, gravel mulch will serve you more than one year! Very profitable investment.
Ground cover plants
What about live mulch? It is not only beneficial for the soil, but also beautiful! To save time, effort and money, choose perennial ground cover plants: ivy, creeping thyme (in the people - thyme), etc.
Sphagnum perfectly neutralizes alkaline soils. It is able to absorb large amounts of moisture, so in a "sphagnum" rug your plants are not afraid of any drought! Another valuable quality of sphagnum is its antiseptic properties.
Keep in mind that such a mulch is not suitable for every culture. Strawberries and strawberries, for example, under such a shelter will begin to rot, but blueberries or raspberries will feel great. Roses, azaleas, peppers, radishes, pines and spruces will respond well to sphagnum.
Mulch, which is undesirable to use on your site, can be recognized by these signs:
- particles of mulch stick together, resulting in poor water and air flow (this often happens with sawdust and bark particles of non-coniferous trees);
- too much mulch (a thick layer of mulch slows the growth of plants and even kills them);
- mulch reduces biological activity in the soil (if there are no worms and insects under the mulch layer, it means there is no life in the soil!);
- mulch has worsened the composition of the soil (for example, incompletely rotted mulch can “flush out” micronutrients or nitrogen from the soil; an incorrectly chosen one can acid the already acidic soil, etc.);
- mulch contains trash, weed seeds, dangerous "chemistry".
View your site. Perhaps it also contains these types of mulch which are not the most beneficial for the soil and plants!
Wood chips and sawdust
You should not cover your beds with fresh forestry waste. Sawdust is suitable for entering into the soil and mulching only after it is completely surpassed. To use wood chips and wood chips as mulch, you have to endure them for 2-3 years.
Bark of hardwoods is suitable for mulching only if your goal is to retard the growth of weeds and prevent soil leaching. For the rest, it does not carry any benefit for the garden and the vegetable garden: the particles are glued together, forming a dense crust on the ground.
Yes, and this also occurs! Some gardeners are covering their beds with rubber mulch. Perhaps it is a good idea to reuse old car tires, but it’s not ecological for the garden. Yes, and looks rubber mulch is not very aesthetically pleasing.
Film and spunbond
Garden mulching with film and spunbond is acceptable in exceptional cases. Often these materials cover the beds when growing crops for commercial purposes. This type of mulch blocks the growth of weeds, but at the same time impairs the air and moisture permeability of the soil.
If the types of mulch from the previous group can be used in your garden in exceptional cases, then the following mulch should be completely abandoned:
- the mulch is crowded around the trunk of a tree or shrub (it dehydrates the plant);
- non-composted mulch (fresh, non-rotted mulch, especially in large quantities, can literally burn the vegetable garden: the temperature of the compost rises during the process of decay);
- toxic mulch (to talk about the dangers of toxic materials too);
- garbage (recycling of waste is laudable, but its products are not suitable for mulching the garden).
Acid-colored mulch looks bright and catchy, but certainly not aesthetically pleasing. Yes, and to her naturalness very far! Natural materials are always more useful, and look much more pleasant.
Plastic or glass mulch
This mulch retards the growth of young plants, reduces the biological activity of the soil, sticks together under the influence of the environment and looks very cheap.
Unlike straw, hay should not be used for mulching beds and flower beds. Hay - weed seed transporter. What happens to your garden because of this mulch is not necessary to describe in detail. In addition, the hay quickly begins to sing under the influence of moisture.
Choosing the type of mulch for your plot, it is important to remember that it should be used with care, carefully choosing the material of the "coat" for beds and flower beds. When choosing between healthy plants and a garden that does not need weeding, always choose the first. In this case, your beds will thank you with an enviable harvest.