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Sheet Mulching

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What is mulch?

Mulch is a protective covering of rotting vegetable matter spread to reduce evaporation and soil erosion. A wide range of materials can serve as mulch, somecommon examples being straw, partially decomposed compost, bark, wood chips, hay, nut shells, pine needles, and others. The point is to cover bare ground so that top soil is not washed away, soil temperature is buffered, and weeds are reduced from lack of light. A good organic mulch will also supply nutrients to the earth as it decomposes.


    * Very little labor involved.
    * No need to dig soil.
    * Uses locally available 'waste' and keeps it from land fill.
    * Creates soil rapidly.
    * Keeps weeds down to a minimum.
    * Reduces evaporation and keeps water use to a minimum.
    * Moderates soil temperatures.
    * Increases microorganisms such as fungus, bacteria (and other beneficial organisms).
    * Increases earthworm population like crazy! FREE worm castings.
    * Locks free Co2 up in a carbon matrix.

    * Attractive.

    * Really fun to do!!

Why Mulch?

    Gardening with Sheet-mulch in all climates of the world has major benefits. Mulching improves nutrient and water retention in the soil, encourages favorable soil microbial activity and worms, and suppresses weed growth. When properly executed, mulching can significantly improve the well-being of plants and reduce maintenance as compared to bare soil culture. Mulching cools the soil by reflecting the sun back up to the plants where it is needed and reduces evaporation. Mulched plants have better vigor, faster growth rate and yield and consequently have improved resistance to pests and diseases.

    In most areas of the world the 'natural' tree, shrub, grass or meadow layer has been compromised. These systems would normally create mulch as aging plant material falls to the ground and decomposes. This would keep a healthy mat of soil organisms which quickly recycle nutrients back to the canopy above. This would insure the protective shade and shelter from wind which the soil needs to remain healthy.

    When we introduce ‘modern’ agriculture, herd animals, sub-urban landscapes, urban paving or use trees and shrubs for cooking & heating, we degrade the capacity for soil to naturally replenish itself and the plant canopy above. We must remember the ‘job’ natural plant canopies have is one of the keystones to health of our biosphere (life layer of the planet). In order to tilt the balance back to one of life, abundance and health of all organisms (including humans) we must understand and mimic the systems we have unintentionally disrupted.

    So go forth and be ‘Mulchful’

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