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Mulch: Compost Or Non-decomposed Organic Matter?
Mulch: Compost Or Non-decomposed Organic Matter?

Video: Mulch: Compost Or Non-decomposed Organic Matter?

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Video: Soil vs Compost What's the Difference 2023, January

What works more efficiently in the beds?

Potatoes and onions grow on mulch
Potatoes and onions grow on mulch

Potatoes and onions grow on mulch

First, let's look at the main functions of mulch.

Under a thick layer of organic mulch, moisture is maintained, temperature drops between day and night are reduced, and soil structure is improved. The best conditions are created for the development of soil microorganisms, for which mulch serves as food. Under the mulch, the vital activity of earthworms is activated, as a result of which it becomes looser and does not clog after rains and watering. Under the influence of microorganisms and worms, organic matter inedible for plants decomposes into digestible mineral elements, with the formation of humus.

Mulch, covering the surface of the soil, inhibits the destruction of humus by the sun. A layer of mulch significantly reduces the amount of weeds in the beds. Thanks to mulch, the top layer of the soil always remains loose, and additional loosening is not required after watering. When organic mulch decomposes, microorganisms release large amounts of carbon dioxide, which is necessary for photosynthesis.

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In due time I have tested different materials for mulching. I had the experience of mulching with compost and humus. Based on this experience, I can say the following.

In order to use compost as mulch, it still needs to be prepared. You need to collect organic matter, grind it, put it in a heap, wait for the organic matter to grind it down, drag it to the beds. These are considerable labor costs, additional space, time. In addition, when composting, the amount of organic matter is reduced by four times. This means that if this same organic matter is not composted, but applied in an undecomposed form, then the same amount of organic matter can be mulched four times as large. Or make the mulch layer thick. This is just the answer to those who claim that the lack of compost prevents them from mulching all the beds. These facts alone make one think about the advisability of using compost as mulch. Non-decomposed organic matter is capable of performing all the functions of mulch, in some cases much better than compost.

The main argument of the proponents of compost mulch is that compost is ready-made food for plants. But as a fertilizer, compost, spread in a thin layer on the surface of the garden, will work only with frequent watering. More precisely, you need to keep this layer always moist. If you do not do this, then this layer dries quickly. Plants use nutrients only in solutions. No solutions - no nutrition.

You can, of course, use a thick layer of compost. But then this very compost will need much more, which in turn will increase labor costs. On the surface of open soil, active humus mineralization occurs. Humus is simply destroyed. It turns out that the gardener composts organic matter to obtain humus. And then, using ready-made compost as mulch, he himself contributes to the destruction of humus. What then is the point of such work? If you have ready-made compost, then it is advisable to place it under the mulch to avoid its destruction.

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The color of the finished compost is dark brown or black. This color contributes to the absorption of sunlight, strong heating of the ridges. The loose structure of the compost in this regard only slightly improves the situation. Non-decomposed organic matter is usually light. It reflects a large amount of sunlight, which greatly reduces soil heating. The thermal conductivity of any undecomposed organic matter is lower than the thermal conductivity of the finished compost, therefore, such mulch saves from overheating better. In addition, the sun's rays reflected from the light mulch enhance photosynthesis. A thin layer of compost in heavy rain very weakly protects the soil from the impact of drops, and itself is washed off into lowered areas of the garden. Undecomposed organics are much better at solving these problems.

All of the above is more about the classic use of mulch - as a covering material. If there are compost paths, more mulch in the beds is not required. But, nevertheless, mulch can be used not only as a covering material, but as food for plants after processing it with soil digestive devices. In order to enhance these processes, in addition to the actual nutrition (non-fermented organic matter) and microbes, moisture, heat and crushing of organic residues are needed. When such conditions are created, mulch will be sufficient for plant nutrition. If you choose this approach to mulch, you will have to add a new layer of mulch every two to three weeks - due to active decomposition, the organic layer will rapidly decrease. And keep the bottom layer of mulch moist.

Good luck with your gardening business!

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