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It took me several years to realize the benefits of mulch! I’ll never go back…..read my top 5 benefits of mulch in your garden.
Mulch is a MUST HAVE in any garden – be that veggie patch, market garden, flower garden, and even container gardening. What is mulch you ask? MULCH according Wikipedia = “A mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of an area of soil. A mulch is usually but not exclusively organic in nature. It may be permanent (e.g. plastic sheeting) or temporary (e.g. bark chips). It may be applied to bare soil, or around existing plants. Mulches of manure or compost will be incorporated naturally into the soil by the activity of worms and other organisms.” And THAT is exactly what this post is all about.
Other types of mulch include: dried grass, grass clippings, mulched grass from mowing the lawn, decomposing leaves, woodchips or bark and such permanent or inorganic types as stones, pebbles and plastic sheets.
So now to the Top 5 benefits of mulch in the garden which in turn creates an organic garden and so much more : Drumroll…………………………..
1. WEED BARRIER
Everyone hates weeds! Except maybe goats and ducks. I am not a fan of tilling as this disturbs the soils natural organisms. UGH, but those weeds. SO you can spend hours each week in back breaking work pulling weeds OR lay down a layer of mulch over your veggies or flowers and the mulch suppresses the weed growth and can eventually even cause them to decay and die off. Awesome! Thus, benefit number 1 !
2. SOIL AMENDMENT
Soil thrives on healthy nutrients and bacteria and any organic decomposing matter such as cut grass, leaves, twigs, bark etc… added around as mulch will eventually become compost thus adding nutrients back into the soil and benefiting your veg and flowers! WIN! You can buy soil amendments online or at a nursery, however, what better, cheaper and easier way to give back to your soil with decaying matter right in your own yard!
3. MOISTURE RETENTION
Plants need moisture like humans need water to survive! You CAN spend morning and night ringing up a huge water bill by heading out to water each day ( when there is no rain) however another benefit is that the mulch retains moisture. Rain or any form of water sits on the mulch and seeps in underneath – the mulch covers the moisture allowing the soil to stay cool and wet far longer. We find this especially helpful as we have a red clay type earth in Africa and a day without rain is like a desert for our earth. Mulching is the way to go!
4. ENCOURAGEMENT OF WORMS
Oh the beauty of the homely looking worm. Isn’t it fun to upturn a rock or some dirt and find some squiggly worms underneath? Worms are extremely beneficial to the soil. In fact there’s a name for it – Vermiculture – and I am extremely excited about worm farming. I’ve found a place here in Zambia that sells compost, worm castings AND worms ~ even if you are far from Africa do check out their website for all kinds of good vermiculture worm information especially if the idea of worm farming is new to you. Mulch benefits the encouragement of worms by keeping the soil underneath dark and cool and wet. Worms love that kinda stuff. Yay, mulch! I also follow this wormologist on Instagram. Check her out ! I didn’t even know that was a profession – I think I’d like to be one 🙂
5. SOIL SAVER
Daily watering and heavy rains break down the soil and can even wash it away preventing your plants to grow. Mulch benefits the soil by providing a cushion or blanket around the plant and provides a barrier between the impact of harsh watering or rainfall to cause erosion! This might seem trivial but I have experienced entire gardens that have been washed away or damaged by stormy weather, winds, and hail! MULCH is a preventative method from soil erosion! Way to go mulch.
So there you have it – the Top 5 benefits of mulch. I’d like to add that I follow an amazing organization that refers to mulch as God’s blanket. I believe that God is the earth’s Creator and I see this clearly in nature all around me. IF no one ever went around raking or mowing or landscaping to perfection then leaves fall, grass withers, weather happens and left untouched a natural blanket of earth, MULCH, covers the soil and benefits for all 5 reasons above.
As I thought about writing this post I walked outside to look for evidence of God’s blanket. –
It wasn’t a thick cover so a few weeds passed through but let’s peek underneath You can just SEE the benefits of mulch as a perfect home for worms and bugs and cool, dark soil thriving under the decaying leaves.
In the States we often bought bags of mulch and they are fairly inexpensive as we were confined to the spring and summer season – woodchips was our usual choice there. In the season of fall we often raked up piles of leaves and mulched our veggie and flower beds in preparation for winter with the decomposing leaves. I also used those on top of my onion and garlic bulbs to lay dormant until early spring.
Here in Africa, we can garden all year and any type of wood mulch would be a huge NO-NO because we are constantly battling TERMITES!
UGH – they make me so angry and I find them everywhere – wood mulch would be infested within minutes.
SO FAR I’m trying out grass clippings and dried grass. We have a kind of small pasture at the back of our yard and the grass grows high like weeds. The local African way to mow that down is by slashing with a long machete – the great thing I discovered is that after that it dries into beautiful straw kind of mulch!
So that’s what I used on my freshly planted strawberry and lavender patch.
I certainly hope you found this helpful – if so or if any further questions contact me or leave a comment below. To read about further benefits of mulching check out another short post I wrote about the JOY Of reaping a harvest from your own backyard OR maybe this summer you’ll grow some veg and think ahead to your own from scratch Thanksgiving menu. If gardening is something you enjoy, think about using MULCH – once you see the benefits of mulch you’ll never garden without it again! Thanks for reading, leave a comment below about your mulching methods.
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