WHAT IS MULCHING? AND WHY SHLOUD YOU BE DOING IT?
February in Africa is known as “suicide month” mainly due to the intense heat. For gardens, this is when every drop of water around needs to be kept in the soil, and assistance to cool the soil from the baking sun is embraced. The answer to the evaporation-causing heat problem in gardens is mulching. This is the process of covering the topsoil with organic, degradable, plant material such as grass, bark, twigs, leaves, crop residues, hey, wood chips, shell nuts, dry grass, leaves etc.
Here is why you should be mulching:
- Done generously in February, mulching goes a very long way for the garden in keeping it hydrated and cool, improving the capacity of the soil to store water thus reducing the need to irrigate – especially important in drought-stricken areas and in the hottest months
- Mulching is also aesthetically appealing for your garden, making it not only beautiful on the inside, but on the outside too. Who doesn’t love a beautifully bark-mulched garden bed or pathway?
- Organic matter that has been used for mulching, will be incorporated into the soil by earthworms and other organisms. This creates a stable soil structure and thereby making water run off less likely, thus preventing soil erosion.
- Mulching also improves the filtration of rain and irrigation water by keeping the pores of the soil open and moist – caking of the soil, which tends to happen in dry beds without mulching, will not happen with mulching as it prevents cracks from forming on the surface
- This practice also suppresses weed growth. Weeds firstly need a place to fall to germinate – and if your bed is covered with mulch , finding an ideal spot to grow is less likely .They also need light to germinate if they do get to the soil and mulch starves them of this light.