Mulching is one of the main ways to protect the soil from a number of negative factors. In particular, it allows you to retain moisture and many nutrients in the ground. Some materials used in mulching even enrich the soil with new bacteria and microorganisms. There are many nuances in this procedure.
Why is soil mulching necessary, and how to conduct it?
Due to the procedure, which consists in laying a layer of certain materials on the ground, it is necessary to dig up the earth less often. This, according to many gardeners, leads to the elimination of its exhaustion. Additionally reduces the risk of disease in a number of plants.
Soil mulching leads to a qualitative development of the root system and increases the chances of a particular crop to take root in the ground. In addition, it provides an opportunity to prevent the growth and development of weeds, soil erosion during a period of high humidity. In addition, unlike other methods of tillage, after mulching the earth remains loose and breathable, does not harden. Because it becomes more fertile, because the enrichment of the roots with oxygen is not disturbed.
The main advantage of this technique is the elimination of defects of a particular soil, which makes it most suitable for the growth of all plants. The freezing of the ground during the cold season is also reduced. It preserves perennials and helps them survive difficult conditions.
It should be said about in which cases and for which crops mulching is a prerequisite:
- A soil rich in clay or sand with no constant and abundant watering requires the addition of mulch. The procedure should be carried out in hot time. Especially if it grows potatoes, cabbage and cucumbers. As well as tomatoes, planted with a root system close to the top layer.
- Strawberries and strawberries require mulching both to protect against freezing and to prevent berries from rotting with abundant watering. In addition, the mulch will make an excellent fertilizer in the spring.
- Additionally, mulching is necessary for the pumpkin family and various fruit shrubs.
The procedure is performed most often in the last decade of May. Before this, the earth undergoes initial processing: dried grass is removed from it, weeds are pulled out. Moreover, the perennial should even remove the roots. Otherwise, the procedure will be useless. The next step is to feed the land through any complex fertilizer, "rammed" into it.
At the end of the soil spread mulch of organic origin, a layer of which varies depending on the selected material. The average value can be called 5-7 cm. In the case of straw, for example, it can be reduced to 3 cm. Around shrubs and fruit trees should also pay attention to the radius of the circle of mulch. Usually it is about 45 cm for the first and 70-80 cm for the second. It will change in proportion to the growth of the tree.
One important point that experienced gardeners advise to remember is the inadmissibility of contact between mulch and stalks or plant stems. Otherwise, the reverse process will be called. In perennial plants and trees, the layer is annually supplemented without eliminating the old.
The last caveat to study is the composition of the soil. It affects both the choice of material for mulching and its layer. In particular, clay-rich earth requires a thin layer not exceeding 2 cm.
Mulching with sawdust, wood chips, bark and needles
This method of mulching belongs to the category of the most ambiguous, since some gardeners stubbornly insist on its benefits, while another considers it to be useless.
Before you cover the soil with sawdust, bark or needles, it is necessary to fertilize the land with nitrogen. This measure is applied in order to prevent the deficiency of this element, which appears as a result of the decomposition of these materials in the soil.
Mulching with sawdust and wood chips is used mainly for various perennial crops - berries and vegetables. For example, strawberries and strawberries. In addition, it is with these materials that it is convenient to work when tilling the land for tomatoes with cabbage and carrots with onions. In addition, it is common for sawdust to soften the soil, increase its moisture content by holding the liquid, but at the same time prevent the erosion in case of its excess.
The needles and bark are good in that they work as a natural disinfector and source of beneficial microorganisms that pass into the ground. This makes it possible not to constantly change the "place of residence" of certain crops, since the soil is not depleted. Especially love pine needles.
The disadvantages of mulching with sawdust, needles and bark are that a very thick layer of material is necessary for the qualitative suppression of weeds. In addition, the acidification of the earth is possible, in the case when at the same place the method of mulching does not change from year to year. The issue of nitrogen deficiency, also related to deficiencies, has already been mentioned earlier.
Mulching with newspapers and film
Among the inorganic methods of sheltering the land, mulching with newspapers and the use of a special polymer film have become particularly prevalent. It should immediately be noted that both of these materials do not affect the chemical composition of the soil. They also do not contribute to its protection from pests, possible leaching, weathering and do not regulate acidity.
The main purpose of the film is to keep weeds at the expense of its impenetrability. Black will keep it warm, increase and maintain soil moisture under it. Usually, the choice falls on it when searching for mulch for strawberries. At the same time, an increase in humidity creates all conditions for pathogenic bacteria, therefore, the film is recommended to be used only in between rows.
White film, on the contrary, reflects the sun, preventing overheating of the soil. It allows you to perform air exchange and moisture exchange, and also does not allow weed grass to break through. The use of this film for mulching is suitable when working with heat-loving crops.
As for the newspapers, here, as with the sawdust, everything is somewhat ambiguous. The main disadvantage is the presence of printing ink on paper, which, when penetrating the soil, is capable of poisoning it. On the other hand, it is a great way to retain moisture, as well as prevent overheating of the earth.
Mulching with straw and mowed grass
Often, experienced gardeners mulch the beds with straw, leaves, or mowed grass. With the first option, there is a need for advance preparation. The material is processed with mullein, thoroughly spilled and moistened. After that, you need to wait until it changes color to brown, and only then lay the ground for them.
Do not use for straw mulching, because in the process it is enriched with inhibitors - special substances that interfere with the full growth of plants. Although, of course, this will also hinder the weeds from growing. But this material is good for complex mulch: you can add leaves, needles and other organic elements to the straw.
Tomatoes and potatoes, as well as strawberries, are especially good in mulching with straw and similar materials. Weed growth prevention occurs even with a small layer of mulch, which saves its consumption. This in some way pays for the high costs of this material, if it is not received at its own site.
Among the advantages of soil mulching with straw, it is necessary to note the qualitative retention of moisture and the parallel preservation of the upper part of the earth in a dry state. This prevents rotting of the fruit and reduces the risk of their diseases. In particular, this moment is relevant for strawberries and strawberries during the rainy season, fraught with the appearance of rot on the berries.
It is up to you to decide which way to mulch the soil. Experienced gardeners propose to combine all the above-mentioned materials, thus achieving maximum efficiency from their use. But most importantly, before starting the gardening season, carefully consider which plants for the first use mulch.