The temperatures at the Happy House Farm range from 29 degrees C through to 38 degrees in the hot and dry summer. In this climate mulching is a must to preserve soil moisture. There is however a lot more to mulching than you might think.
Organics funnily enough needs organic materials – this is what mulch is – raw organic material added direct to the top of the soil. Mulching has many benefits and many uses, but there are some downsides as well that you need to be aware of. Overall though, mulching is a wonderful and necessary organic gardening practice.
Organic Garden¬†Mulching Video @ Happy House Farm
Organic Gardening Mulching Downside
Too Wet And Moldy
If you are in a wet and cool part of the world, mulching may not be a good thing for all your plants. Too much moisture held close to the plant stems may rot them or cause fungus or insects to build up around the stem or roots causing rot and disease issues. However not all your plants may have problems – do some tests. It also depends on the type of mulching materials that you use. Different materials can behave differently. All in all if you can add mulch to your garden it will reap a lot of the benefits listed below.
Loss Of Nitrogen
Most mulching materials are high in carbon and low in nitrogen. For organic material to break down it needs the help of nitrogen, insects, bacteria and fungus. High carbon mulch will often ‘steal’ nitrogen from your soil to help it decompose. This is a downside of course seeing nitrogen is one of the main growth materials for plants. Being focused about the type of mulch that you use, and the timing when you use it, can avert this downside. And of course you can create a mulch mixture adding in some higher nitrogen materials to the mulch such as animal manures or comfrey leaves.
Overwintering Organic Beds With Mulch
A great way to use mulch in cold climates is when you put your ‘beds to sleep’ for the winter. Adding a thick layer of mulch mixture to the top of your beds at the end of the growing season can give your soil a much needed top up over the winter months. It can also help insulate the soil from the cold helping your worms stay warmer. Ensure you add a good mixture of nitrogen and carbon materials and layer the mulch at least 200mm (6″) deep and dig the mulch lightly into the top layer of soil.
Organic Mulching Benefits
There are SO many benefits to mulching. Here are the main ones:
- Adds organic raw materials
- Provides food source for your worms
- Creates a great environment for beneficial bacteria to grow in
- Maintains water moisture levels in the underlying soil
- Protects from soil erosion – direct rain impact and run off
- Provides a cover for worms from chickens
- Builds soil humus
- Protects soil in dry climates from soil wind loss
- Protects plants from high solar radiation
- Reduces ‘plant droop’ during hottest part of the day