Why, How and What to Mulch
Soil, having the basic components of minerals, organic matter, water and air, needs proper care. In light of World Soil Day (6 December) we want to highlight the importance of mulch and mulching. A practice that is beneficial to both plants and soil.
Why should I mulch my plants?
Plants need mulching for various reasons. For one, mulch helps regulate the soil temperature and this is particularly useful both when the weather is extremely hot and also when it is very cold. In South Africa, we mostly experience warmer temperatures, however, the few freezing cold spells that occur offer another opportunity for mulching. Doing this can help to protect your plants from frost damage. On the other hand, when the temperature rises, mulching is very useful in reducing watering frequency. This will keep the soil from getting too hot and as such reduce the plants’ thirst. Mulching can also enhance soil structure and health, depending on what you mulch with. Furthermore, mulch can be an effective weedkiller. Aesthetically, it can provide a more appealing surface layer from which your plants can shine from. Many winter bulbs available in South Africa originate from regions with cold winters, and so they especially appreciate the insulating effects of mulch.
How do I mulch?
You might be wondering how often you should mulch or how much mulch to use. The perfect amount of mulch will be enough to cover the surface area around the plants and between 1cm and 3cm in thickness. You don’t want it to be too thin or too thick. Too much mulch will rob your plants of moisture and too little will be ineffective. Simply press the mulch down to avoid having the wind blow it away.
What plants should I mulch in my garden?
You can mulch a variety of bulbs and other flowers. Trees and shrubs can also be mulched as well as your fruit plants and vegetables. Essentially, plants that could do with nutrition, need frequent watering, like cold temperatures or require frost protection should be mulched.
What can I mulch with?
You have choices of which mulch material you can use. Consider the needs of your plant before deciding. Some examples are coconut husk chips, straw, plants, but we highly recommend using compost.
What to consider when mulching?
You should establish your reason for mulching. For soil health, compost is king. Another kind of mulch is the living kind. Small annuals can be planted around bulbs and under trees and shrubs for a pretty and effective mulch.
Giving consideration to the various needs of your plants you are able to choose the perfect mulch for your space that enhances your garden in every way. If you haven’t considered mulching, now is the perfect time to start.