Quick lesson on Mulch:
Mulch is to the plant world what a quilt is for you in your bed.
Let me explain. Mulch is a 10cm thick layer of organic fibrous material like woodchips, compost, cocoa husks, pine bark, BRF etc
This is how mulch works
- Mulch acts as a thermal insulation layer just like a quilt. It enables all the bacterial life which is essential for roots to function at reasonable temperatures and avoids extremes of heat and cold.
- Mulch also acts as a sponge. It regulates the humidity of the soil below and so keeps life comfortable for the soil bacteria by avoiding waterlogging or drought.
- Mulch decomposes to feed the soil. The healthier your soil, the healthier your plants. (which takes me back to the question on the difference between topsoil and subsoil…
Here are a few of the advantages of mulch:
- You can make it yourself so it’s cheap and avoids trips to the dechetterie, just use a garden waste shredder. Otherwise you can buy it, but since it’s a byproduct of tree felling you can usually get hold of some locally. You just need to ask around. It is also available commercially in “big bags” of 2m3 delivered to your garden.
- It contributes organic matter to the soil and so enriches the soil to feed your plants reducing the need for other fertilizers
- It reduces water loss and so reduces water consumption
- It insulates plants in the winter and protects the roots from freezing
- If it forms a layer which is thick enough ( 10cm) it actively prevents the germination of all weed seeds requiring light to grow.
- Its natural texture is light so any weed seed which may germinate on top of the layer if caught quickly enough can be easily and quickly removed with your fingers, as opposed to letting weeds grow in our local Toulouse clay where weeds are really hard to remove as the soil is either baked hard or sticky mud.
- On esthetics: depending on the material chosen the colour can vary widely and the texture too but usually its neutral and naturally discrete in the garden.
- it’s a non-polluting material which should be entirely organic , biodegradable and non-toxic in your garden ecosystem.
Ok now the disadvantages
- It is not a 100% guaranteed solution to prevent weed growth, but anyone who believes that there is a solution either has a concrete garden or is a big fan of Walt Disney.
- It does not last forever; it needs to be topped up every 3 years as it decomposes.
- It can be moved around by animals or children or the wind.