Table of contents:
How to apply mulch and green manure correctly
The simplest organic shredder - a chock with an ax
Many questions arise among gardeners who have decided to switch to natural farming. I will answer some of them.
Can the mowed wheatgrass be used as mulch?
Oddly enough, many copies have been broken around this question. Most authors advise to do radically with wheatgrass - just burn it. But in my practice, I have never done that. I did everything simply. Even wheatgrass plants with roots were simply laid out on top of the mulch and so left. They definitely dried up and did not cause any more problems.
It happened that in a rainy summer he pulled out the bushes of wheatgrass with roots and did the same. Even the earth did not particularly try to shake off the roots. The rains only somewhat delayed the deadline for the weed, but I have never seen wheatgrass take root in such conditions. Moreover, there is nothing wrong with using the mowed vegetative mass of the weed as mulch.
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I do the same with other perennial weeds that are considered malicious. It is important here not to allow perennials to seed, so as not to increase their number. But for the burdock I am making an exception. If his seeds fall into the path, no big deal. When the leaves grow to such an extent that they begin to interfere with cultivated plants, I cut off the leaves. Over the summer, you can cut it several times, replenishing your garden with organic matter. If burdock plants get in the way, it's very easy to deal with it. It is necessary to pour some edible salt on the cut - the plant will certainly die.
Burdock became "compact" after two leaf cuts
“Despite the still thin layer of mulch, weeds are making their way through it. How to weed and loosen, is it really possible to move everything every time? "
Mulch greatly reduces weeds. But it is important to understand how this happens. A fairly thick (at least 5 cm), dense layer of mulch does not allow sunlight to pass to the weed seedlings. Annual weeds do not germinate without light. But in order for this mechanism to work, some subtleties must be taken into account. For example, the mulch layer is small, as in the case described by the author of the question. A thin layer of mulch cannot provide complete darkness on the surface of a garden bed or path, which means it does not save you from weeds.
The same thing happens if you cover the ground with a thick layer of coarse, coarse mulch, such as whole straw or large weed stalks. It does not create a dense, sun-impervious layer simply because it does not fit tightly. For such a mulching material, a much thicker layer is needed - 20-30 cm. Of course, you cannot mulch carrots with such a layer, but potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, peppers are quite possible. Crops that grow slowly at the beginning of the growing season, such as carrots, require a thinner layer of mulch. This means that it is necessary to use a mulching material that would provide a high density. On my site, foliage from the forest with an upper layer of litter, needle litter from a pine forest, and chaff serve for this.
The most impenetrable layer is formed by last year's foliage, if watered abundantly. If there are not enough such materials, you can simply grind the organic matter that you have. The finer you grind it, the denser the mulch. It would be ideal to only use highly chopped mulch. Now on sale there is a large selection of organic waste shredders. Craftsmen use various homemade designs. They greatly simplify the preparation of high-quality mulch. However, if the area is small, and time permits, you can use the simplest chopper - a chock with an ax.
On my site, I have long found a simple way to do without grinding coarse organic matter. In spring and summer, I spread straw, cut grass, weeds on the paths. During the warm period, this organic matter is trampled, partially undercut. By the spring of next year, it is a densely packed crumb. Any crops can already be mulched with such organic matter. In a warm period of time, I always try to bring as much plant debris as possible to the paths, then in the spring there are no problems with mulch.
But even the densest mulch, laid in a thick layer, cannot contain some perennial weeds. Bindweed, thistle thistle, burdock easily break through any mulch. This is often referred to by gardeners who are disillusioned with the use of mulch against weeds. There's nothing you can do about it, these aggressors are breaking through the asphalt.
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Foliage from forest with top layer of litter,
needle litter from pine forest
How to weed?
If you have created a dense layer of mulch, then you will only have to restrain the growth of perennial weeds, which were discussed above. I just manually pull them out, I don't see any other option. If the mulch layer is thin, then using a flat cutter you can cut the weeds directly under the mulch. In this case, it is better to use a sharply sharpened small Fokin flat cutter.
On my site, I do not strive to completely get rid of weeds, I allow a certain amount of them. I only welcome the appearance of weeds on the paths - they accumulate solar energy, which is then given to cultivated plants. The main thing is that the weeds on the paths do not interfere with the growth of crops.
Try this experiment. Leave a piece of the path densely overgrown with annual weeds, so that they cover the surface of the path with their foliage. Under this cover, moisture always remains much longer, you can see for yourself. The attitude towards malicious perennials is somewhat different. On my site it is a bindweed, sow thistle. They must be removed at any stage, and the more often the better. However, I do not consider these plants an indisputable evil either. There is nothing absolutely harmful in nature. Let's take the same bindweed and sow thistle. Their roots go to a depth of more than six meters and from there they pull nutrient solutions. They are able to assimilate nutrition in a form in which it is not available to cultivated plants. After they are pulled out, the weeds give up the accumulated substances in a more accessible form. They can perform other functions, but about them below.
This is how my beds are mulched
How to loosen?
This question also arises from a misunderstanding of the essence of mulching. Loosening is a useful thing if your beds are kept without mulch. What is its need? As a result of the destruction of the soil crust, a dry, loose top layer is created. This layer greatly reduces the evaporation of moisture from the ground surface, which reduces the amount of watering required. Therefore, loosening is called "dry irrigation". In addition, by breaking down the crust on the surface of the ridge, we provide access to atmospheric air to the roots. If there is no air access to them, plants are oppressed and often die.
All of the above tasks can be easily solved by mulch. In addition, you need to loosen after each watering or rain, and the mulch remains loose all the time. Thus, the use of mulch makes such a traditional agricultural technique as loosening completely unnecessary.
“About siderates: if you just cut them off, we will have stubble - how to sow on stubble in spring? The same thing happens if the roots of large plants, such as cabbage, are left in the soil in autumn. "
First of all, the use of green manure does not provide for their complete maturation. Siderata are cut while they are still quite tender, not lignified - not later than the budding stage. And you need to cut them not obliquely, but with a flat cutter at a depth of 1-2 cm in the soil, and not above the surface. Then there will be no stubble left. The roots remaining in the soil will support and will not create problems in the spring.
The harvest is ripening in the beds
Another thing is if the green manure was grown to obtain seeds. Here they cannot be taken with a flat cutter - they are too tough. In this case, I proceed as follows. I leave the stubble high for easy grasping. In the spring I just pull out the stems with the remnants of the roots. This is not difficult to do. During the fall and early spring, the roots are strongly undermined, and only the thickest ones are pulled out. The vast majority of small roots remain in the soil.
I do the same with cabbage stalks, the remains of tomato stalks, beans. So the roots of harvested crops work for soil fertility, and hemp does not interfere. For the sake of interest, do an experiment: pluck the stumps in the fall and estimate the volume of the roots pulled out. Then pull out in the spring, see how many roots remain on the torn stump. See for yourself that the difference is big.
Read the next part. Using mulch for pest control →