Mulching: principle, utility and implementation in the garden

Mulching is a natural technique that nourishes the soil and promotes the development and growth of plants while protecting them. Mulch can be made from 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 take stock of 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 exposed soil of the vegetable garden and pleasure in order to nourish and protect it, with what is called mulch. Thus, by placing a bed of organic and mineral materials there, in particular at the foot of vegetable, arboreal and flowered 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 beds, at the foot of plants, shrubs, trees and even in planters and pots.

What can you do with mulching?

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, the pruning of plants and trees, wood chips, dead leaves, etc. These materials rot and degrade at a more or less rapid rate to nourish and protect the earth.
  • Mineral mulches: these mulches are made of rocks, slates, pottery debris, clay balls, shellfish 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 heat, since they help to warm the earth effectively.
  • Textile and plastic mulches : this solution is less natural, but effective. These are canvas or plastic films deposited on the surface of the ground. While they are effective, they are not really aesthetic.

What are the advantages 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 growing there. If the mulch is not a weedkiller, it avoids having to weed weeds since it does not allow them to grow.
  • Promote plant growth : Plants that have mulch are protected from numerous attacks, including high temperatures, frost, parasites, fungi, etc. This helps them develop better and stay healthier.
  • Reduce watering : mulching considerably reduces the evaporation of water from the soil. In hot weather, mulching keeps the soil moist at the feet of the plants and reduces their water requirements. It is therefore no longer useful to water frequently.
  • Promote the development of beneficial insects and microbial life : Insects useful to the well-being of plantations are attracted to mulching and settle there during the winter. In addition, it promotes the development of microorganisms that are good for the soil and plants.
  • To constitute a natural fertilizer : by decomposing, vegetal and organic mulch enriches the soil and serves as fertilizer.
  • Protect plantations from soiling : fruits and vegetables are protected from dirt on the ground and protected from splashing thanks to mulching.
  • Reduce the beat effect : with climatic hazards, the soil settles under the action of the rain, which forms a crust that prevents water from infiltrating. Mulching reduces this effect by protecting the soil.

How to implement it?

In autumn and summer

Do not go haphazardly and choose your mulch according to your plantings and the type of protection desired. Here are the steps to follow for a successful mulching:

  • Weed the soil where you want to lay the mulch in order to expose it.
  • Water the soil well to keep it moist.
  • Lay down a layer of mulch about 5-7cm thick and be sure to maintain this thickness if you have opted for organic mulch as it breaks down over time. For young plants, limit the thickness to 2-3 cm until the plantings 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 it’s windy and when the soil is frozen.

In autumn, the ground is protected before the cold sets in. In the summer, consider raking the mulch if rain is forecast to help it penetrate the soil.

In winter

Maintain the mulch to protect your crops from the cold.

In spring

Remove the mulch to prevent pests from growing there.

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