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Mulching

Water evaporation and weed growth are two enemies of any gardener. Mulching is a simple way to avoid both.

Nature knows best. It is rare to find a patch of bare ground in nature. The earth underneath a tree will quickly be covered with fallen leaves and twigs. A piece of meadow exposed by the digging of an animal will quickly be covered again by plant growth if left undisturbed.

mulching
On Lotan, we reuse our discarded trimmings as mulch.

Mulching is the act of covering the ground so as to limit water transfer, insulate the soil from extreme temperatures, and suppress weed growth. Many materials can be used as mulch. When choosing the right mulch for your project it is important to consider the various properties of the material.

Organic materials such as straw, composted hay, deciduous leaves, newspaper, cardboard, wool, sawdust, wood chips, and shredded garden debris are all solid candidates for use as mulch. Organic mulches are always better alternatives to their non-organic counterparts.

Some Suggestions

Urban and suburban gardeners can often find bags of collected leaves in autumn. Collect them and place them directly on your garden to keep it warm throughout the winter. In the early spring the leaves can be removed and the ground underneath will have stayed a little warmer because of the cover.

dead leaves
Dead leaves should not been seen as a nuisance, but instead as a resource.

Sawdust is also readily available to urban and suburban gardeners. Just make sure that the lumber mill did not use treated wood, the chemicals in treated wood can harm your plants and soil.

mulch
Straw is also a great mulch material.

If using garden debris or hay as mulch try to compost it a little first - this will help cut down on the sprouting of weed seeds. Make a pile of the garden debris and/or hay and water regularly as you would a compost pile (or allow to get wet from rain or snow). Let sit for 3 months before using on the garden. This process will kill the weed seeds and leave you with beautifully textured mulch for your garden.

Resources:

  • Book: Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway
  • Book: Designing And Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally by Robert Kourik and Rosalind Creasy
  • Website: http://bit.ly/hQguMi (Virginia Cooperative Extension)
  • Website: http://bit.ly/t7njMZ (Royal Horticultural Society)

 


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This work by Center for Creative Ecology, Kibbutz Lotan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.kibbutzlotan.com.