Sunday, December 11, 2022

What is mulching?

Mulching is a widely-practiced gardening technique that is beneficial for plants when done properly. Mulch is defined as a coating material spread over the soil surface.

Mulching is referred as spreading various covering materials, such as bark, wood chips, leaves, and other organic material, on the surface of soil in order to preserve moisture and improve the condition of the soil.

Soil also tends to dry out faster and harden in the hot sun. Mulches could potentially minimize water runoff, improve infiltration capacity of soil, and perform as obstacle in evapotranspiration. The main strength of mulching is to conserve soil moisture by reducing surface evaporation and controlling soil erosion

Mulch helps regulate the temperature of the soil. Plant roots stay cooler when the temperatures rise. In the winter, mulch helps the soil stay warmer to protect the roots from the cold.

Mulch also prevents weeds. Mulches control the germination and growth of weeds and inhibit the spread of soil-borne diseases. These mulches can also serve as insulation to stabilize the soil temperature and protect the roots from extreme temperatures during summer or winter.

There are two types of mulches: organic or biodegradable made of organic materials and inorganic mainly made of plastic-based materials. The organic mulches consist of animal and plant residues.

The most commonly used organic mulches include straws, husks, grasses and cover crops (live mulches), saw dust, compost, and manures.

Shredded bark is one of the most common and least expensive types of mulch. It comes from a variety of sources, including cedar trees.

Organic mulch encourages earthworms to move in. The worms dig tunnels that help bring air and water into the soil. They also break down leaves and other organic materials. Their waste is excreted in the form of castings. Castings act like a kind of fertilizer, helping plants grow.

The most frequently used inorganic mulch throughout the world is polyethylene plastic mulch. The application of plastic mulching in agriculture is getting popular throughout the world, and its usage is increasing day by day. The use of plastics as mulching in agriculture is called plasticulture which is being used increasingly for producing fresh vegetables.
What is mulching?

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