Soil mulching: main tasks

soil mulching main tasks Blog

Mulching refers to an agricultural practice that is used to reduce the number of waterings, prevent the growth of weeds, improve soil characteristics, and increase crop yields.


The main method of mulching is covering the soil with some material of organic or inorganic origin. As a rule, mulch is used not only for growing fruit and vegetable crops, but also for caring for fruit trees and ornamental plants and flowers.

Advantages of mulching:

  • maintaining soil moisture;
  • prevention of overheating of the soil in the hot season and freezing in the cold;
  • eliminates the contact of vegetables, berries with soil and prevents the occurrence and development of rot on fruits;
  • protects the earth from snails, slugs ;
  • prevents soil erosion and erosion (especially on slopes);
  • makes it difficult for a dry soil crust to form, which increases the ability of the soil to absorb water;
  • the number of weeds is reduced ;
  • there is no need for frequent loosening of the soil between the beds;
  • plants protected by mulch are better at adventitious roots.

Types of mulch: advantages and rules for use

Summer residents use various materials of organic or inorganic origin for mulching. This is dictated by various purposes and ways of its application.

organic materials

In this case, sawdust, needles, hay, nut shells, and leaves play the role of mulch.

Advantages: when rotting, the material becomes a fertilizer for the soil, the soil structure improves. The disadvantages include the attraction of various insects, slugs. Most often, several natural materials are used for mulching.

  1. Mowed grass, laid in a layer of 5-10 cm, works like a thermostat: the heating of the soil decreases on a hot day and the heat of the soil is retained on cool nights. Using a trimmer is a great way to get mulch. Finely chopped grass rots gradually and serves as a natural fertilizer for plants throughout the entire period of their growth. Features of light and shiny straw: slow to decompose, reflect the sun’s rays well (important for the ripening of strawberries). Also hay/grass/straw keeps weeds from germinating.cut grass
  2. Advantages of soil mulching with needles: moisture is retained in the soil, weed growth is reduced, fungal and bacterial plant diseases are prevented. Since the needles secrete phytoncides and other biologically active substances, the wireworm and the bear are effectively repelled. The crushed needles are laid in a layer of at least five centimeters. It is desirable to cover the beds from mid-May. This technique will significantly reduce the need for weeding and watering and help increase yields. This is especially important when planting moisture-loving crops: potatoes, radishes, lettuce, garlic, onions. Coniferous mulching is also recommended for cherries, plums, blueberries, sunflowers, eggplants. Since fresh needles significantly affect the characteristics of the soil (the acidity of the soil increases), it is better to use fallen or yellowed needles.Mulch
  3. Chips, sawdust can be used for mulching almost all plants. It is recommended to use fine-grained material or shavings. Sawdust is laid in a layer of 2-3 cm and is best suited for potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, raspberries, strawberries, fruit trees. The positive qualities of wood material are ventilation of the soil and the soil temperature is maintained, which is optimal for plant growth. When choosing a mulch, it is better to give preference to small chips of deciduous trees, as it is less caked, better ventilated and overheats faster. Do not use chipboard sawdust, as they contain artificial impregnations.Mulch
  4. Paper, cardboard, newspapers are used by many gardeners, as they are excellent at fighting weeds and there is no need to remove them at the end of the season – the soil is simply dug up. Newspapers are laid in four layers and a layer of other material (sawdust, straw, hay) can also be poured on top. At the beginning of the season, it makes sense to use cardboard or kraft paper, as they keep the ground warm at night. Paper mulching is most often used for planting raspberries and legumes. When using newspapers, do not worry about printing ink, as it is harmless to the primer.Mulch

Making mulch in the country with your own hands from plants is not difficult at all. The cut grass is first dried, then chopped (if a scythe was used, not a trimmer). At the same time, it is important to ensure that weeds with seeds do not come across, otherwise additional weeding of the beds will then be required.

In autumn, mulch is laid to retain heat on the soil surface and improve the wintering of perennial crops. For the spring period, it is recommended to move the material to provide heat and water access to the soil. The layer of mulch decreases during the growing season, so it should be added occasionally.

Mulching with inorganic materials

For work in the country or in the garden, inorganic materials of natural and artificial origin are used.

  1. It can be said that mulching the soil with pebbles or gravel has a greater aesthetic value than agrotechnical. Although the advantages of these materials cannot be denied: the growth of weeds is reduced, the soil is protected from drying out and overheating. Disadvantages of using pebbles: delivery and coverage of large areas require financial resources, transport and physical strength; when redevelopment of the site, the stones must be carefully collected; it is advisable to protect the areas with bumpers so that the material does not crumble around the dacha.Mulch
  2. As an artificial inorganic material, synthetic fabrics, rubber, roofing material, special covering sheets are used. It is not recommended to use rubber, synthetics, as these materials can release harmful substances.Agrofibre

Mulching film is the best option. It is made of polyethylene, it comes in white, black, transparent and is available in different thicknesses. Rainwater, liquid fertilizers enter the soil through cuts in the canvas. Advantages of the material: mold does not appear under the film and insects do not start, water is well retained, low light impermeability prevents the growth of weeds. A distinctive feature of the black film is to attract the sun’s rays, which contributes to the rapid heating of the soil. This quality is important if it is necessary to warm up the soil early or to insulate its area. Disadvantages of the material: does not let air through, short-lived (one or two seasons).

Agrofibre is a new and more advanced material. Its advantages: long service life, can be used all year round, the porous structure allows moisture and air to pass through, which allows the soil to “breathe”.

The order of work when mulching the beds

Before using the mulch, preparatory work is carried out, which is considered mandatory for any site.

So, you need to weed out all the weeds with roots, carefully loosen the soil between the beds, fertilize, water the ground. Further, depending on the plant, the type of material and the desire of the summer resident, the rest of the work is carried out.

Mulching strawberries with paper

A small depression is made between the rows of strawberries, which is covered with old newspapers. It is enough to overlap 2-3 layers of paper. Then a layer of sawdust 2.5-4 cm thick is poured. Such a “pie” will overheat in about one and a half to two years. At this time, it will be possible to forget about the weeds. If you like the result, then the procedure can be repeated.

Mulching strawberries with agrofibre

The area for planting strawberries is covered with a canvas, which is fixed around the perimeter with bricks or stones so that the wind does not rip it off. Bushes are planted in the ground through special holes in the canvas. The plant should be carefully watered after planting. When choosing agrofibre, the following factors should be taken into account: the size of the beds, the climatic features of the region.

Mulching a tomato

On open ground, mulch is used after the seedlings have confidently taken root and there is no threat of night frosts. In heated greenhouses, soil can be mulched immediately after planting. Depending on the type of material used, the method of mulching is selected. When using a film for mulching or agrofibre, the canvas is first laid on the soil, and then seedlings are planted in the prepared slots. Hay straw, sawdust are laid out in dense layers on the surface of the entire area.

  1. Mowed and dried grass is the cheapest and most available material for soil mulching. Greens must be well dried, otherwise wet plants may ban or become moldy. Lay it in a layer of 10-15 cm on heated soil. Hay, when decomposed, becomes fertilizer for plants. Especially a lot of minerals are found in nettle. During the summer period, hay will need to be added several times (as it rots).
  2. Shredded dry straw is also good to lay on the ground around the tomatoes. It is important that weeds practically do not germinate through a layer of mulch 10-15 cm thick. Such material is especially useful when planting low-growing varieties. Since the fruits will not lie on the ground, but on straw and will not deteriorate.
  3. Sawdust is recommended for use in areas that are not often dug up. Mulch cover the heated soil directly under the plant. It is believed that mulching should be carried out during the flowering of tomatoes, as this leads to an increase in the number of ovaries. But you need to use sawdust / shavings only from hardwoods.

Many materials allow the summer resident to independently make the choice of mulch. However, it is imperative to take into account the acidity of the soil in the area. Since each type of mulch in a certain way affects this indicator of the soil. And it is better to choose the optimal thickness of the mulch individually, since a thin layer will be blown away by strong winds, and a thick one can have a bad effect on plant growth.

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