Video: On The Benefits Of Pre-winter Soil Mulching In The Garden
Most of the crops grown by gardeners came to us once from the forest, where their roots in the trunk circle were always reliably covered with a warm and soft pillow of fallen leaves and needles. Forgetting about this, we took as a practice widespread digging of the earth in the fall, removing all weeds from it, leveling the surface with a rake. And then, in this naked form, we leave her until next year.
The study by scientists of the practice of such an attitude to the earth has shown that under the conditions of the vicissitudes of our climate, bacteria and other living things freeze out so much that their usual mass, inherent in one or another soil, is restored only by the end of June. It turns out that in the most crucial period for growth and development, plants lack nutrition: there is little living matter in the soil, which means there is little humus - the basis of fertility and rich harvests.
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It follows from what has been said that soil mulching in our climatic conditions should be total in nature, that is, it should be carried out not only after watering or loosening the soil, not only for garden crops and not only during the period of their cultivation, as is recommended in the literature, but always everywhere, especially before winter. In such conditions, the uppermost, most fertile layer will always be in a favorable environment, and the soil will not lose, but, on the contrary, will acquire an even richer content, saturated with everything necessary.
There are many recommendations in the literature and the press about the features and methods of mulching plants in vegetable beds. Here, we will focus mainly on mulching of fruit and berry crops and flower beds, including their podzimny and long-term mulching.
As evidenced by my personal experience and the experience of other gardeners, in the pre-winter period, any post-harvest residues, crushed stem mass, weeds and already fallen leaves, as well as sawdust, shavings and bark can be very successfully used for mulching.
At the same time, in order to accelerate the decomposition of the mulch cover, it is best to mix it by simultaneously adding a composting accelerator, which is a complex mixture of bacterial fertilizers.
Mulch is usually applied to the trunk circles of detached fruit trees, and for young plants with a layer of 5-6 cm, and for fruiting old ones - with a layer of 8-10 cm. Around the trunks with a diameter of about 80-100 cm, mulch is usually applied in a very thin layer to avoid damage to the bark. It has been established that such pre-winter mulching contributes to soil porosity, its aeration and moisture permeability, and this influence often extends to a depth of 15-20 cm of the surface layer.
With a prolonged and low-frost autumn, it is even possible to detect a rather active activity of earthworms under the mulch. All this, taken together, contributes to the good survival rate of newly planted and successful overwintering of young fruit-bearing trees, as well as facilitates heavy maintenance in spring.
Low-stemmed apple trees with a small-sized crown are especially fond of mulching. The thin suction roots of these trees grow to a mulch cover and are visible if the mulch is carefully removed. Mulching berry bushes gives good results, and a mixture of foliage and chopped herbs and stems is best suited here. At the same time, since pathogens of these crops may persist on the leaves, it is highly advisable to use the foliage and stems of other crops for mulching some crops.
All berry bushes are successfully mulched with sawdust, shavings and bark, but before that they must all be in a rotted or semi-rotted state. On strawberries, good results are obtained with a mulch cover made of compost and coniferous sawdust mixed with needles. It protects the berries from pollution at the time of harvest, giving them a special taste and aroma.
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When mulching flower beds, and especially roses, instead of the scarce and expensive stall manure recommended in the literature, it is quite acceptable to use compost from the bark, as a result of which the structure of the soil improves, its moisture becomes balanced and maintenance costs are reduced. The use of chopped branches and stems of plants in a mixture with chopped wood waste was also quite justified. In this case, the best result was obtained when using the named mulching materials 6-7 cm thick.
As established, under the influence of the external environment (rain, irrigation, etc.), although very small particles of mulch sink into the depths, the general structure of the mulch cover is preserved and actively interacts with the soil, and microbes are activated, and both mulch cover and and soil. This results in the decomposition of the mulch and the enrichment of the soil with humus. At the same time, moisture is well preserved in it, the appearance of weeds is suppressed, the likelihood of the formation of a soil crust is excluded, which prevents the growth of the root system of trees and shrubs. Loose mulch warms up faster, and all plants begin to vegetate earlier and faster.
There are many examples of the beneficial effects of mulch on fruit trees and shrubs. I can judge this from personal experience. One of the three one-year-old apple trees, as a result of careful late-summer mulching, bloomed a year earlier than others and also gave the first fruits earlier. And one of the gooseberry bushes, which is no different from the others, but only well mulched, gave large and tasty berries almost two years earlier. Even the currants, which seemed to have already died from the severity of the years, after good pruning and mulching with watering with herbal slurry in the spring of next year turned green and gave quite full-fledged shoots, and then berries.
In conclusion, I will give several requirements for mulching that are absent in the literature and appeared only on the basis of personal experience.
• First, before mulching the soil, you must make sure that it is well warmed up and thoroughly loosened to a depth of about 10 cm.
• Secondly, at the same time as loosening, the most vicious rhizome weeds must be removed from the soil: wheatgrass, creeping grass, bindweed, etc.
• Thirdly, in order for microorganisms to start their activity in a timely manner, mulch should be applied either in late summer or early autumn, when the land is still alive.
• Fourth, when introducing mulch, one should always strive for the diversity of its species composition and thorough mixing of its various components with each other, due to which the species composition of microorganisms participating in the formation of humus from mulch and soil will be more diverse and rich.
• Fifthly, if the mulch layer in the spring turns out to be too thick and dense, leading to negative consequences for the soil, then such mulch should be removed, then loosened again, warm the soil and re-lay either a new mulch, or the same, but thinner layer with its subsequent build-up during the summer season.