Mulching is truth and fiction

Mulching is truth and fiction

About mulch without secrets. Part 3

Read the previous part of the article: Mulch for weed control, moisture retention and thermoregulation

What should those who do not have the ability to create the perfect mulch do? First, decide: what do you need mulch for, what task do you set for it.

For example, in early spring, you need to quickly warm up the soil and retain moisture. To do this, it is rational to use compost (it has a dark color, almost black). Dark mulch, by reducing the loss of water from the surface of the ridges, helps to accelerate soil warming.

In summer, under dark mulch, the soil will overheat. In this case, you can add mowed grass on top, which, when dry, brightens, or straw.

If you have a mixture of different mulching materials, then it is worth deciding where to apply it. To accelerate the decomposition of mulch, post-harvest residues of vegetables, grass and weeds should prevail in the mixture. Coarse materials in the mixture will prevent caking and rotting of the mixture, provide aeration.

This mixture is best suited for mulching annual crops. When a longer duration of mulch action is desired, wood waste should prevail in it: bark and foliage, sawdust and shavings. With such a mixture, it is good to mulch perennials, garden crops.

Having figured out what's what, it will not be difficult to create very comfortable conditions for your plants.

The division of mulch according to tasks and criteria is absolutely arbitrary. This division is needed only for understanding. In reality, this is what happens: you put mulch on the garden bed for the second task. In the presence of moisture and heat in the soil, microbiological processes begin - layer-by-layer decomposition of mulch. And the lower layers of mulch already solve the first problem. And the top layer decomposes slightly, it acts as a protective coating, smoothing out external influences.

Gradually, the upper layers are exposed to microbes. If you use non-decomposed organic residues mulch every year, then you automatically get flaky mulch, just like in nature. And the longer you do this, the greater the effect of such mulching - the soil becomes more biologically active.

In the literature, there are different recommendations for the use of mulch. Some of them, judging this from personal experience, seem superfluous to me. For example, there is a recommendation that you must loosen the soil before mulching.

And during the summer, even if mulching is applied regularly, the heavy soil needs constant loosening. Perhaps this is necessary at the stage of transition to the constant use of mulch on very heavy, clayey soils. On my heavy loam, loosening is not required either before mulching or during the growing season.

Under the mulch, the soil itself, under the influence of microbes, insects and worms, comes to the desired state. I think that on sandy loam and sand, loosening before mulching is all the more unnecessary.

There are recommendations on perennials to embed old mulch into the soil in autumn, and to mulch the soil surface again in spring. In my opinion, this is laborious and pointless - it is more expedient to lay a new layer of mulch on top of the previous one. This will ensure the natural scenario of the course of soil processes.

The authors of articles on mulch sometimes warn about the possibility of various undesirable consequences of this technique. For example, they write that organic mulch, rich in worms and insects, attracts birds from all over the area. Secondly, it serves as a reliable refuge for mice and moles, which undermine and gnaw young plants. Using mulching, you have to deal with rodents.

For eight years of total mulching on 20 acres, I did not notice that my site was very popular with birds. The only problem with the birds I have is the neighbour's chickens. But this issue is solved by fences.

I didn't have any special problems with rodents either. Insignificant damage to potato tubers and root crops (less than half a percent of the harvest) were observed only in an extremely dry year. I think this was due to the lack of succulent food for rodents. The rest of the time I do not remember about rodents and do not fight with them in any way. And yet, just in case, under garden trees that can damage mice, I do not use straw - for mulching I use potato tops, coarse weeds. I must say that several cats live on my site. But, alas, they could not get mice under thick mulch on potatoes.

I can't say anything about moles. We simply do not have them. In our region live shrews, whose lifestyle and nutrition are the same as that of a mole, but I have never seen them on my site.

Slugs are often mentioned in connection with mulch. Messages are conflicting. And here the arguments of both defenders and opponents of mulching are quite logical. Slugs feel great under mulch.

But the decaying mulch serves them with the food they need. And, nevertheless, in some cases, slugs harm with tripled strength, in others - they completely stop harming. I have a lot of slugs on the site, but they do not bring any noticeable harm. The conclusion suggests itself that there is an influence of some other factor. Apparently, under certain conditions, plants become simply "tasteless" for slugs.

Perhaps, receiving a balanced nutrition due to the active action of microorganisms, plants significantly increase immunity and become unattractive to slugs. But the soil cannot instantly restore its best properties; this takes some time. At first, the effect may not appear. Maybe some other factor plays a role here, which we do not yet know about.

Mulch opponents say: “You need a lot of mulch. This requires large material costs or labor costs. " In some cases, this is true.

For example, I use quite a lot of mulch on my plot - I create compost paths. There are reasons for this - this is a topic for another conversation. But the amount of mulch is necessary and can be reduced after a certain limit in my case. At the initial stage, it is necessary to raise the potential soil fertility, accumulate humus, restore the optimal structure - to create a favorable background for dynamic fertility.

When this task is solved, much less mulching materials are needed. The required amount of mulch must be understood and used rationally. This is a matter of practice. For example, in my area there is an active growth in the thickness of the fertile soil layer. This means that a lot of organic material is not used for dynamic plant nutrition and is deposited in the reserve.

And today I have a task before me: to find the amount of mulch that would maximize the provision of plants with dynamic nutrition, but not accumulate reserves. I have already written about the sources of mulch that I use. If desired, almost everyone can find opportunities to find mulch.

Can I add less mulch than mine? It is easy - to follow the example of the gardener I.P. Zamyatkin. Make narrow fenced beds and wide aisles. Use mulch only on the beds. Leave the passages under turf. Then much less mulching materials are needed, and the grass growing in the aisles will be a source of mulch.

In addition, local conditions must be taken into account in each case. For example, my 2/3 layers of mulch serve to preserve moisture and protect against overheating of the soil (our average annual precipitation is 300-350 mm; July temperature is up to 40 ° C). In regions that do not experience problems with precipitation and with less hot summers, these problems most likely do not exist, which means that much less mulch is needed.

Mulch is not a method of purely natural farming; it is also used by adherents of other directions of gardening. And very successful.

Naturalists, organists call for abandoning mineral fertilizers, pesticides, considering it harmful. On the contrary, agrochemists declare that these things do not bring harm. Many practitioners believe that it is necessary to apply both "wisely". Most likely, the truth is somewhere in between these opinions. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. The dispute has been going on for a long time and to no avail.

The main thing is clear to me now. Regardless of whether mineral fertilizers and pesticides harm the soil and plants, large yields can be obtained without them. With the correct application of mulch, they are simply not needed - yields can be much higher than with a complex of agrochemical methods. Unfortunately, the results of mulching heavy soils do not show up quickly. It takes time to increase yields significantly. This stops many impatient gardeners. But all the processes can be rushed - using EM drugs. Among my acquaintances there are people who have achieved very good results with their help.

I do not presume to argue what, how and how to mulch in conditions different from mine. Very often "illogical" things happen in practice. For example, mice and slugs do not cause problems for me “contrary to logic”.

I talked a lot with people who theoretically studied some issue (and more often - read 1-2 articles) and who think that they thoroughly know the topic. Such connoisseurs, foaming at the mouth, prove "their" rightness, having no real practical experience. For example, recently on the Internet I read the following comment under one of the articles: “You are doing everything right! Next year I will also try to do this ... ”When you read this, it becomes sad.

How do you know what is right and what is wrong if you didn’t do it ?! There are enough such people in the camp of opponents of mulch, but no less of them among its supporters. Some, having speculated, "saw" a bunch of disadvantages of mulching. Others blindly copy someone else's experience. This approach can discredit any worthwhile trick.

I would like to advise those who want to try to apply mulch in their garden and vegetable garden: try to understand what main goal you are pursuing. You need to observe: whether the mulching materials that you have perform this task, and adjust the application time, layer thickness, and more. Talk to people who are actually getting good results from mulching in your area. And only after that it is worth drawing conclusions.

Good luck in this business!

Oleg Telepov, member of the Omsk club of potato growers
Photo by the author

Pine bark mulching: basic nuances

Mulching is one of the most important agricultural techniques, which allows not only to practically forget about the hated weeding, but also to significantly reduce the frequency of watering. And there is hardly a summer resident in the world who would never mulch the soil in his life! There are many different materials for mulching today, and it is sometimes extremely difficult to choose the most suitable option among them, but natural materials continue to be very popular. Pine bark is no exception! Why is it so good, and how to use it correctly for mulching?


Pine bark mulch is a great help to protect the beds from too sharp temperature changes. And, it should be noted, there is simply no better natural shelter! However, pine bark is quite actively used not only in the beds, but also in flower beds, and even in front gardens. This is a wonderful natural product that is truly the perfect mulch! What's more, pine bark mulch also becomes a great decoration at the same time!

Pine bark is good because it crumbles extremely slowly, and its decomposition also does not occur very quickly - these properties make this protective material very durable and reliable. And when the bark decays, no harmful substances penetrate into the soil!

The main advantage of this material is its impressive resistance to a wide variety of negative external factors. Neither rain, nor snowfalls, nor frosts will be able to destroy the pine bark, since, perfectly absorbing moisture, it immediately gives it to the crops under its protection!

Pine bark perfectly retains moisture in the soil, reliably protecting it from drying out, and also quite successfully blocks the development of weeds, while preventing the appearance of a dense crust on the soil surface. True, this mulch will not protect completely and completely from the growth of weeds - it will only significantly slow down their growth, thereby significantly facilitating the care of the site.

But that's not all - among other things, pine bark is also considered a fairly effective fungicide, that is, it also helps prevent the unexpected appearance of gluttonous parasitic insects. This means that when using such mulch, there is often no need to resort to a wide variety of chemicals!

How to prepare mulch yourself?

Nowadays, it will not be difficult to purchase ready-made mulch, but its cost sometimes causes genuine surprise among summer residents. But you can always get a pine bark and make mulch from it yourself! All you need to do is go to the forest and find pine trees there! It is important to take into account that the bark is usually not removed from young trees. You should also avoid felled or old trees with various kinds of defects.

Having chosen a suitable tree, you first need to check how easily the bark separates from it - if this happens without much effort, and the bark does not break into pieces, then the tree was chosen correctly. And then all the collected bark is crushed using a pruner or special scissors. That's all the wisdom!

Features of mulching

As a rule, pine bark mulching is done in spring or autumn. In the spring, before covering the soil with a layer of such mulch, it is recommended to thoroughly fertilize the soil first. And only after that a layer of mulch is poured on top, the average thickness of which is usually five to seven centimeters (on clay soils, a three centimeter layer will be enough). If it is planned to mulch the beds, it is best to do this only after the crops planted on them have already risen.

As for the autumn mulching, it is designed to fulfill two main tasks: in September, the soil is mulched with pine bark in order to preserve the maximum amount of nutrients in it, and the November mulching is designed to protect various crops from frost.

It is highly undesirable to mulch too wet soil, as this approach significantly increases the risk that the soil under the mulch layer will be affected by all kinds of fungal infections!

It is also important to take into account that the complete decomposition of pine bark usually occurs on average in four years, respectively, as the layer of mulch used decreases, it is recommended to systematically renew it.

How to mulch?

I try to keep my garden, the whole garden under mulch. This includes berry fields, so I will show an example on a berry field.

Under the film

We start by deciding which type of mulch is convenient for you. I tried everything - under hay, and under film, under bark and black covering, under compost and sawdust ...

No mulch

Stopped on a bedding from a chicken coop. In the chicken coop I have a bed of shavings and sawdust. Clean in the chicken coop and there is no smell characteristic of keeping poultry. It is easy to clean, I take everything under the plants and in the beds. I endure the whole season. And the poultry house is clean, and the harvest is pleasing.

Chicken coop floor

So: the earth has warmed up in the spring, it's time to start mulching.

We try to remove everything, but even if they remain, it doesn't matter, they rot under the mulch. The main rule is a layer of mulch, if it is hay (or, like mine, litter), then at least 7-10 cm, if the film or covering, then the material is folded into two layers (you can buy it in OBI stores)

We cut holes in the covering material in accordance with the root system and pin or sprinkle it with earth along the edges.

When mulching with hay or sawdust, we also sprinkle it not at the very root.


For strawberries, it is impossible, for example, to cover the growth point, so we mulch only potatoes with the head))

When mulching with bark, I first spill the whole bark with potassium permanganate, mmm, until no one gets sick, even conifers.

Berries. Mulch - bark

Much has been written about the benefits of mulch, I confess honestly, I chose this method, because I have to water much less often and plus weeds do not grow. Although no, they grow, but so little!

The only thing that I do not mulch in my beds is a bed with spices, they grow freely on their own and do not allow weeds to break through.

Benefits of mulching

Mulching plants brings many benefits and has no drawbacks, except for the obvious laboriousness. The more we use mulch, the more we value the benefits it brings to our garden.

Eating natural mulch such as compost, shredded leaves, straw, and even grass cuttings can help eradicate weeds and retain moisture in the soil. The thicker the layer of mulch, the less often you need to water and weed - the savings in time and effort are evident.

Beds with tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other large, bushy plants can be covered with mulch 5 cm thick and 25 cm in diameter around each plant. Mulched plants grow better, give a higher yield, there are practically no weeds under them, and they need to be watered much less often.

We mulch the rest of the garden with straw or chopped leaves to protect the soil from drying out and colonizing with weed seeds.

Secret # 3. Work a little every day. The third and last secret of a weed-free garden is daily, systematic plant care. For example, we only work 5 minutes a day, removing weeds that break through the mulch layer. It is easier to pull out a small weed than to deal with many large specimens later.

Note that five minutes a day does not equal 35 minutes once a week. If you go out to the garden once a week, then you won't get off half an hour. So, we work every day, but just a little.

Covering the beds with straw. Photo:

That's all the secrets! Pay attention to your garden plants daily, build up a sufficient layer of mulch, and enjoy the results and free time while the neighbors stand upside down and complain of lower back pain.

We wish you to defeat the weeds and grow a big harvest! Regards, Jim and Mary!

What is soil mulching and why is it needed?

For some reason, many gardeners underestimate soil mulching, practically not using it on their plots. They cultivate the vegetable garden "the old fashioned way": autumn digging, spring loosening, planting and sowing, weeding, then watering and repeated weeding with loosening. This is a familiar set of techniques that ordinary people are accustomed to in various regions and regions of the CIS. But some amateur gardeners, brought up on the same examples, have already discovered the value of mulching (which, by the way, has been known for a long time and was used back in the USSR).

We will tell you about why mulching the soil is needed (without which, as many believe, you can still do). If you want to get the maximum result at the minimum cost and prefer to act most efficiently - this topic will be very interesting to you.

If you are not mulching yet, then we are coming to you)

Apple tree question - mulching

I read somewhere about the delights of mulching. Weeds do not grow, atmospheric moisture settles. I covered the tree trunks near the apple trees and plums with cut grass. So the neighbors (they read other books :) began to scare them - they say, everything will rot nafikh. So I think - leave the mulch or shovel everything until it rotted.
Who has what experience - share.

These delights have one side effect under the rotting tops, all sorts of bugs, ticks, ants with herds of aphids and other inhabitants feel themselves excellently. Although there is no harm, especially from the process of rotting the cut grass along the near-trunk circle (not near the trunk itself, as it was correctly said).

I am conducting an experiment this year - I sowed the trunks with phacelia and white mustard (siderata) - they, in theory, should produce nitrogen, clog the weeds, and then I mow them and don't let them wither right next to the apple trees. I will report on the results, they have already ascended.

Well, slugs are also not the most pleasant and useful neighbors.

Svetlana is right about snakes. They tend to come and stay on the site if the conditions are convenient for them :))

Aha, noble for them all Shchelkovo direction is crying.

Interesting. And besides "trees, fruits and vegetables," under what other mona to lay down?
I have there like 4 5 evergreens (junipers, fir / spruce / larch) and deciduous chestnut, red-leaved oak, viburnum.
Tortured to mow! I thought to enclose it with a plastic decorative border and fill it with colored chips.
I read about the "cut grass" - now I'm thinking: which is better ?!
The concept of "better" for me includes, as well as life support "from the land of the growing", and my personal resource - "made and forgot" (lazy, you see!).

IMHO of a beginner mulchefil> And besides "tree-fruit-eating" under what other mona to lay down?

You can put the grass under whatever you want. I distribute for convenience when mowing. In the past season, it really bothered to drag the collector to the compost heap. Now I'm pouring under what's next. These are trees, bushes (currants, gooseberries) strawberries and strawberries. And here's what I noticed - there is not enough grass :)

My mower is weak and when the collection box overflows, the cut grass may remain on the ground. If this happens, then where there is a lot of grass, bald spots are formed.

IMHO the place for mulching is determined only by aesthetic considerations - caked dried grass does not fit in every corner by design.

And yet - IMHO sawdust is better as mulch. They are looser and better breathable. And this is useful.

It is not necessary to use sawdust. they acidify the soil very strongly. Then you will get moss and sterile sourness where you will swell dolomite flour. And you will get tired of chasing ants by flooding the area with chemicals.

In addition, they quickly lose their yellow fluffiness, acquiring the color of unhealthy feces and an unpleasant odor.

Watch the video: How To Make Fast Compost At Home - Make Compost Fast