Updated: May 24
Over the past few years many gardeners have rediscovered the benefits of organic mulch. The application of mulch goes long way back to 17-18th century and it is important part of Organic Gardening, organic food growing and permaculture principles that follows the law of nature: return and recycle nutrients and dead matter back into soil.
Mulching have many benefits but the most important is increase in organic matter of the soil. Slow decomposing of mulch will also feed the soil microbiome. Many studies show that healthy soil microbiome and natural soil fertility will promote heathier and stronger plants that are better able to withstand attack from pests and fungal diseases.
- adding organic matter
- improved pest resistance
- improved fungal resistance
- adding nutrients
- improve soil structure and water retention
- promote soil microbiome
- attract earthworms
- suppress weeds
- provide shelter and food for insect, birds and wildlife
Different types of mulch
- homemade compost
- washed out seaweed
- grass clippings
- mushroom compost
- leaf mold
- well rotted animal manure
How to mulch
Depending on what type of mulch you are using there are some differences but in general the more the better. Layer few inches thick (2-5 inch) is preferable. By excluding light from weed seeds they won`t germinate and improved soil structure will make pulling out established weeds easier.
You can mulch at any time of year but coarser mulch like woodchips and straw are better to apply around established plants and trees as they take longer to decompose, homemade compost and fine mulch are great for vegetable beds in autumn or spring so that it have time to incorporate into soil before sowing/planting. Grass clippings are high in nitrogen so are great around green leafy plants.
But no need to overthink it, any mulch is better than no mulch and leaving soil bare and exposed.
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