The Dark Art of Mulch
Mulching is one of easiest & most important things you can do for your garden.
Mulching is like a love blanket. It conditions the soil & creates an environment for the heavy lifters in your garden to thrive: worms + microbes + fungi all love moist & dark spaces.
Mulching also regulates soil temperature & reduce stress from drought & weather shocks.
And mulching helps to suppress weed and seed germination.
How to mulch?
A thin layer of mulch doesn’t really do the trick. Whereas a thick blanket 10-15cm deep blocks out the light to reduce seed germination, and works wonders.
The thicker the layer, the less often you need to apply it. And I recommend topping up your mulch once a year, in early spring, to set your garden up for the following year.
What is the best kind of mulch?
Mixed species, shredded mulch is the best. Shredded mulch knits together on banks and is less likely to roll or blow away.
Chunky bark chips roll off the bank; pine by itself leaches nutrients; inorganic stones suck moisture & don’t break down; weed mats & textiles don’t break down, and they don’t create new soil. Weed mats also limit water & air access to the soil, which are both vital for healthy living organisms & plant roots, and they create a barrier & stop the natural generation of new topsoil from leaf drop etc.
Mulch vs compost
Mulch is not compost. Mulch is like a blanket. Compost is food. It is best to feed your garden with organic edible fertilisers in early spring, before you add a layer of mulch over the top.
What about the most annoying thing about mulch?
Yes mulch mysteriously appears all over your paths and lawns over night. But that is a good thing! The mess is caused by birds; and they are hunting worms and small creatures that live in your soil. It means that your soil is alive and doing its job. You can mitigate the mess, by planting your garden below garden edging levels, adding mowing strips around lawns, and add planted or built up raised garden edging to contain your beautiful garden behind.
A bit about garden vs pot fertilisers