The term mulching indicates the operation of covering the soil with inert material; This operation is carried out for some main reasons, the main one is to avoid the growth of weeds, in the flower beds and in the garden. But mulching can also be done to keep the soil moist in the vicinity of plants that are particularly demanding in terms of water, or to keep the substrate cool, or even to prevent winter frosts from penetrating too deeply and damaging the root system of the plants. more delicate. Also, in areas with a very hot and dry climate, the mulch It allows to maintain the humidity in the surface layers of the soil for a longer time, with the consequent benefit for the plants and less need for irrigation.
There mulch it is most often found in the garden, it is carried out in the beds of flowering plants, perennials or annuals; It is a layer of inert material to be placed between the plants, in this way the excessive growth of weeds is avoided, since the underlying soil is not exposed to sunlight, with the consequent reduction of the germination capacity of the seeds fallen on the substrate; In addition, the roots of any weed will be more difficult to anchor firmly to the ground, so they can be eradicated with great ease.
In addition to this purpose, with mulching we also manage to maintain a cool and humid area on the surface of the growing medium, to prevent it from drying out completely during the summer period; this effect is particularly interesting when we grow plants that like to have “cool feet”, such as clematis, or some perennials: these plants suffer when the soil dries up completely and heats up in summer, due to the action of the sun and the drought. During the winter, the mulch layer protects all those perennials, or small shrubs, from the cold, which are not suitable for growing in areas with prolonged frosts; in fact, the layer of mulch draws the root system away from the frost, preventing it from penetrating deeply.
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In hobby gardens, mulch is often prepared for plants such as strawberries, which remain in the plot for a long time; Lately we see more and more mulch made also in the fields cultivated with salad.
In the garden a more complex mulching is usually practiced than in the garden, proceeding to clean the ground of all weeds, then covering it with a layer of dark plastic sheet, or with mulch, a robust and resistant plastic material, then Holes are made in the fabric where the plants to be grown will be housed, which will be well spaced and free of weeds. This type of mulch is also sometimes used in the garden, for beds of small shrubs or perennials; after covering the soil with plastic material, in this case it is covered with bark or lapillus, to mask the presence of the underlying mulch. Surely this type of mulch is very durable, but it also has a strong visual impact; On the market there are also mulch leaves produced with biodegradable materials, derived from corn: this type of mulch leaf has a short life and is reabsorbed by the soil in 12-18 months.
To practice long-term padding, as we have seen previously, plastic or fabric sheets are used; In the garden beds, on the other hand, more pleasant-looking materials are used, such as pieces of pine bark, lapilli, dry leaves, straw; These are completely natural materials, which over time decompose or are absorbed by the soil; therefore it is advisable to place fresh material on top of the mulch layer every year, to keep the mulch layer always constant.
Lately, as a mulching material, it is possible to find “alternative” products such as crushed coconut fiber or cocoa shells, these are waste materials that, when positioned, give an effect very similar to non-mulching soil. For a more ingenious and cheerful garden, we can find mulching materials of various types in the best assorted nurseries, from colored glass stones to semi-precious stones.
One of the most used methods in ornamental vegetation is mulching with a mulching cloth. This technique consists of spreading a dark colored cloth over the area that we want to fertilize. After spreading the fabric, holes must be made in correspondence with the plants that we want to come out of the fabric while the rest of the fabric must be left intact. Later we will have to fix the sheet momentarily with pegs or stones after which it will spread the material on the mulching sheet.
The material that we will spread can be bark, volcanic lapilli, pebbles or stones of different types according to our taste. The mulching sheet should be chosen in TNT, or non-woven fabric, a breathable material capable of allowing the soil to breathe without creating stagnation or suffocated areas. This sheet is the best type of mulching sheet because it covers the ground, prevents the sun’s rays from reaching the seeds of the grasses present in the soil, and therefore prevents the germination of weeds while allowing the soil to breathe.
Biodegradable mulch is one of the most interesting techniques in recent years, thanks also to the growing interest in organic farming and an agronomic model oriented towards less invasive and more environmentally friendly agriculture and green management. Biodegradable mulch is nothing more than a normal mulch made from natural, biodegradable materials.
All natural materials are biodegradable, some very quickly and quickly, others more slowly. For the padding, depending on the purpose, both materials can be used, both those with rapid degradation and those with slow degradation. Some solutions, such as straw mulch, is an extremely eco-friendly and rapid degradation solution. There mulch with straw It is used to cover the soil, to create a layer that gives moisture and freshness to the soil but is capable of passing some nutrients at the same time, and in particular phosphorus and potassium, of which the leaves are rich. It is used to protect a planting in the first weeks and it is generally a type of mulch that quickly wears its effects. A little because of biodegradation, a little because it is a material that is quickly eliminated in the open, the mulch with straw it does not last long but it is useful in these specific cases that we have just seen. The longest-lasting biodegradable and ecological materials are the bark, which can be French pine or normal pine. Crust sizes can vary and generally range from the smallest 5/15 to 15/30 to 15/40 or 20/40. The best-selling types of mulch bark are domestic pine, French pine, larch, and Portuguese bark, another biodegradable and recycled material that can be used for mulch they are the coffee grounds. The funds are distributed over the surface of the mulch and discreetly perform its mulching function.