Table of contents:
Video: Mulching Experience: What And How To Make Mulch
"Live mulch" - green manure helps to reduce labor costs and increase yields. Part 1
Let's digress from our summer cottage affairs for a second and look into the forest … But we will not look at trees and bushes, but at our feet. Every centimeter of forest land is hidden from view by a thick layer of small twigs, last year's foliage and other forest "waste". You will not find a bare patch anywhere, unless you accidentally stumble upon a recently dug mole or boar "fossa". You look under a stale leaf, and there life boils and shimmers with hundreds of colors - an ant drags a twig into its house, a worm, frightened by the light, buries itself deeper. And how many animals there are invisible to the human eye!
The same is true in forest glades, and in meadow grasses, everywhere … just not in our gardens. I don’t know where the fashion for ideally "licked" areas without a single blade of grass came from, but to this day, naked, lifeless, ideally plowed land is the standard of beauty and pride of almost any gardener. I had a similar situation when five years ago my mother gave me a plot for my birthday. Before that, potatoes were regularly grown on it from year to year …
× Gardener's handbook Plant nurseries Stores of goods for summer cottages Landscape design studios
We started to develop it slowly. Naturally, I began to read a lot. Everywhere it was the same: digging twice a year, constant loosening and the same constant weeding. It seems that only a year was enough for me. And with all these torments, the carrots grew so that the mouse tails laughed for a long time. I must say right away that my land is heavy loam. Dig it up, loosen it up - it seems nothing, the rain will pass - you can coat the stove with what was loose earth. And when all this dries up the sun … Plant a camel thorn - and you can shoot a film about the desert.
Bit by bit, collecting information from various "underground" literature, reading the works of the classics of natural agriculture, I came to the conclusion that the land needs to be closed, protected from the bright rays of the sun, the pouring rain that clogs the waters, and drying winds. Moreover, the closed land should always be. But at different times with different materials. I would like to share my little experience of using mulching materials with you.
Let's start from the very beginning, i.e. since winter. It seems that all nature is asleep. Not a twig moves in the garden. But this is not the case. Most of the trees are in a state of forced dormancy, and in the ground, even more so, all living creatures are just waiting for the first spring sun. Therefore, it is very important to prevent them from freezing during this period. Every week in winter, I definitely come to the site for at least a couple of hours to throw more snow on special sissies - roses, clematis, always on both schools, where various autumn planting babies are going through their first winter, etc. Only my trunks turn black. Do not be surprised, I am by no means clearing the snow around the trees. It's just that I feed the titmouses and sparrows with sunflower seeds all winter, they, in gratitude, mulch my trunks with seed husks and something else. In the spring, all this fertilizer goes into the ground,giving a good start to fruit crops, and the husks remain on the surface.
Naturally, at this time there is silence and cold on the site. And at home, on the windowsills, some have had it since January, and some craftsmen have already started a hot sowing season since November. You ask, what does mulch have to do with it? All with the same. On the ground, since the container with seedlings is a small bed, which also tends to overheat and dry out. Remember, owners of southern windows, how often do you have to water your seedlings? And when you start going out to the country house on weekends, and there is no one at home?
For myself, I discovered an almost unique material that is perfectly suited for mulching seedlings. It is a coconut substrate. From a small brick weighing 400-500 g, adding 3 liters of warm water, you get half a bucket of ready-made neutral soil. When sowing, after a dive, I always cover the ground with coconut. The same is true at the site. I sowed, for example, carrots, and sprinkled the seeds with coconut instead of soil - and no marker crops are needed. You always know where your crops are. In addition, the coconut is very loose, it warms up well, and the carrots grow on time without any problems.
I also use coconut in floriculture. With its help I make the so-called "lazy" flower beds. For example, all solitaire roses are planted in this way. Sod is cut over the entire area of the future mini-flower bed, a planting pit is prepared from a mixture of rotted compost, sand and humus, and the entire flower bed is closed with thick spunbond. Then, in the center, above the planting site, a wide cruciform incision is made, the edges are bent to the sides, and a rose is planted. After that, we return the edges of the spunbond to their place and cover the entire surface with coconut. It remains only to make a decorative fence.
In almost the same way, my flowerbed with lilies is arranged. Only in the center is a wide slot made for future sprouts, and soil is poured over the spunbond - there are planted seedlings of the summer. Then everything is covered with coconut. With this method of planting, young plants are not afraid of either drought or weeds.
Coconut has only one, but a very serious drawback - outside of large cities it is quite difficult to get it. But, fortunately, coconut is far from the only material for mulching and by no means the most important. What else do we have?
In general, all mulch can be divided into organic (natural) and special mulching materials based on films and spunbond. This also includes roofing material, beloved by some gardeners.
Let's start with the latter. I do not like it and do not use it. I did not find for myself a single plus that favorably distinguishes roofing material from the same spunbond. And there are as many minuses as you like. It is inconvenient in work, tk. low plastic. It gets very hot in the sun and smells rather unpleasant.
From mulching films I like the film "Chernomor". It has a rubbery structure, but at the same time it is light and easy to use. Many are afraid that under the black film, as well as under the black spunbond, the earth will overheat. Oddly enough, nothing of the kind. The ground remains moist and cool.
Light white spunbond also takes its rightful place in the range of mulching materials. Early in the spring, having sowed vegetables planned for the season - radishes, carrots, beets or peas - on a previously cleared garden bed, I cover all crops with this light cobweb, because You cannot leave the land open - it will dry out in the spring sun, and you cannot put organic mulch yet - there are no shoots. I roll out spunbond here and forget about these plantings for two or three weeks, depending on the culture. By the way, spunbond not only protects pea crops from the sun, but also from birds.
As soon as the seedlings get stronger, I take off the spunbond, I walk the weeder "Kuzey" through small one-year weeds. By the way, they are also excellent mulch. I always leave them in the aisles.
I talked about my everyday life in the open field. What about greenhouses? Planting thermophilic crops, if you have an unheated greenhouse, occurs in our region at the end of May or beginning of June, and before that the land in the greenhouse is empty. In the best case, it is watered by rain, but then the weeds will sprout, by leaps and bounds. And if the enthusiastic gardener also pulled the film onto the greenhouse at the end of March, then in order to water the greenhouse soil by the time the seedlings are planted, more than one barrel of water will be needed. Here "fast" siderates come to the rescue. We will talk in detail about their types and use in a separate article, but now I just want to say that green manch, according to its characteristics, is probably the most valuable of all types of organic mulch, since it simultaneously shades the earth, i.e. saving very valuable moisture during this period, and food at the same time. And this contributes to the good development of the seedlings planted in due time. For example, tomato seedlings will take root very quickly and grow under the mulch made from a freshly cut oil radish.
× Notice board Kittens for sale Puppies for sale Horses for sale
As soon as the green manure is processed by the soil inhabitants, the early maturing compost of the spring bookmark ripens. I prepare it very simply - in a wooden box I sprinkle each layer of cut grass with a microbiological preparation from the "Micropan" series. In a month, the grass turns into half-rotted hay, which I lay out in an even layer around the already actively flowering tomatoes and peppers, without touching the trunks to avoid bacterial burns. I huddle the tomatoes a little beforehand. This mulch will last until the end of the season.
I want to note that you can mulch not only with semi-rotten hay, but also with real hay, from grandma's hayloft. Never have I had such smooth, large and clean potatoes as grown under a blanket of hay! And that's all - she loosened the ridge with the same pololnik, laid out the sprouted tubers and covered it with hay. This year, I even planted potato seedlings in this way, covering it almost completely. And no frost is terrible for this potato. The gardener heard an unfavorable forecast - he whipped hay over curious leaves - and sleep well. Only one enemy has appeared quite recently with this method. This is a trimmer. Sadly, no trimmer will give you a bunch of hay, breaking the grass into dust. Therefore, I mow the lawn on the site with a trimmer, and I go to the neighboring abandoned area in the old fashioned way with a scythe …
The most widely known among amateur gardeners is mulching with sawdust and wood shavings. I want to warn you right away: if you decide to buy sawdust, buy them, if possible, from hardwood, since pine sawdust has a rather high resin content, and, firstly, they decompose very slowly, and secondly, it is quite possible, which inhibits some soil processes. Also, do not mulch the ground with fresh sawdust. You will get a nitrogen deficiency, which, alas, cannot be compensated for even with fresh manure. At least it didn't work out for me. They brought us "KAMAZ" sawdust, so I rolled half of it across the potato field after harvesting the potatoes. It is impossible to describe what shamanistic dances I arranged around the potato plantings next season, so that the tubers would grow more or less decent size,despite such a woody gift! In the fall, I also had to equalize the acidity with dolomite flour! In addition, if you really mulch crops with wood waste, then it is better to use shavings. It is not as tightly caked as sawdust.
Now, having learned from bitter experience, I only use sawdust of two years old, adding a little dolomite and sand to them. I really like this mixture of carrot and onion beds. Of the wood mulching materials, attention should be paid to the bark of trees - a rather rare material on our sites. True, it is better to use it in ornamental gardening. We started building a house last year, so I unwittingly drew attention to the long strips of stripped bark collected in heaps at different corners of the site. Happiness to those with a chopper! I don't have it yet, so the heaps continue to lonely wait in the wings.
But it can turn out very nicely. Try it!
What else is in our arsenal? Well, of course, manure. Do not wonder. It is an excellent mulching material for many crops. There are different types of manure - horse, cow, pork, etc., but that is not what we are talking about now. I have the opportunity to get only the cow, so we will talk about it. Let's start, again, from spring. One of my favorite garden crops is strawberry. We have a lot of it - seven large-fruited beds and two small-fruited, remontant. As soon as young leaves begin to look out in the spring, I cover the whole land with half-year-old (autumn import) manure, without touching the sockets. Under such mulch, the ground will never dry out, which is very important for strawberries, because it has superficial roots. And the very first rain will perfectly feed the spring outlets, passing through the nutritious mulch. I do the same with perennial flowers,requiring intensive nutrition - peonies, phloxes, lilies, daylilies, roses, clematis. Sprinkle the manure around the roses with a fresh portion of the coconut substrate. Very early, as soon as the manure thaws, I must cover the ground with it under currants, gooseberries, raspberries and tree trunks of fruit trees and ornamental shrubs.
I also use first-year manure when planting potatoes (in the traditional way). I plant it on the ridges, since I have a low and damp area, and I spread the grooves between the ridges with manure. It is laborious, I admit it. But again, I kill two birds with one stone - and the earth does not dry up, and the food goes to the young potatoes. I do the same when planting cabbage seedlings.
Over the summer, all this mulch is overheated, eagerly eaten by our worm friends and other soil living creatures, giving excellent yields and wonderful, healthy flowers.
In addition to all of the above types of mulch, there is one more - protective. I already wrote that I have a rather damp area, so slugs here are like at a resort. If you leave the cabbage unprotected, you will only see a stump. I really do not like chemistry, so for more than one year I have been choosing a coating that is irresistible for slugs. Sawdust, alas, did not fit for this purpose - slugs crawl over them with pleasure. Some people recommend using sandpaper … I probably haven't grown to it yet - too dramatically, and how much of this paper is needed! This season, I have mulched the ground around the cabbage with fresh cut nettles. I read that slugs don't like it very much, both fresh and dried. Used for the same purpose and spruce branches, taken from roses in the spring. Fortunately, I have no problems with spruce branches - a huge beautiful Christmas tree grows right on the site. In the fall, I definitely cover the trunk circles of all fruit trees with such spruce branches - hares are also frequent guests with us, and mice do not sleep.
In general, you can mulch almost everything that grows on the site and in its vicinity. Did you feed it with a nettle or other herb? The remaining cake is an excellent mulch. Turnip, radish thinned? Surplus - in the aisles. Harvested carrots and beets in autumn? Tops - on the beds in an even layer. Why do the double work - first carry the tops of the compost, and then the compost - to the beds? Let it ripen in place. Just chop the tops a little with a chop, and lightly close them up with a weeder. The worms will thank you very much until winter.
Read the continuation of the article: What are siderates and what they are. Using green manure as live mulch