March 18: Much, Much,  Mulch

Action for Today:  Mulch your plants – Add a layer of mulch such as bark, grass clippings, or hay around the base of plants and trees. In addition to boosting your yard’s curb appeal, the mulch slows the rate at which water evaporates, suppresses weed growth, and adds healthy nutrients to the soil as it breaks down.

Mulch is referred to as “God’s blanket”

 Mulches are not a new concept. For as long as trees have grown in forests, leaves and needles have fallen to the ground, matted together, and formed a natural protective layer over the soil.

The English word mulch is probably derived from the German word molsch, meaning soft, beginning to decay. It no doubt referred to early gardeners’ use of straw, leaves, and loose earth spread on the ground to protect the roots of newly planted trees and shrubs.

Mulches perform at least three basic functions:

  • Reduce soil water losses.
  • Suppress weeds.
  • Protect against temperature extremes.

In one study comparing various mulch materials with bare soil, soil moisture percentages in mulched plots were approximately twice as high, summer soil temperatures were reduced by 8 to 13 degrees, and the average amount of time required to remove weeds was reduced by two-thirds.

The use of mulches in landscape plantings provides other benefits as well. When water droplets land on bare soil, the impact causes soil particles to fly in all directions, resulting in soil crusting and slow water infiltration. Most mulches break the impact of the droplets, reducing soil erosion and crusting and increasing the penetration of water into the soil.

In addition, mulches improve soil structure in several ways. As organic mulches decompose, they provide organic matter that prompts soil particles to aggregate. Large aggregates increase aeration and improve moisture conditions in the soil. These conditions, in turn, encourage additional root development and biological activity, further enhancing soil structure.

And remember its Smart Fish Friday!

 

Be a gardener.
Dig a ditch, toil and sweat,
and turn the earth upside down
and seek the deepness
and water the plants in time.
Continue this labor
and make sweet floods
to run and noble and abundant fruits to spring.
Take this food and drink
and carry it to God as your true worship.

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