We discussed mulching about a year back! When I started studying mulching, I realized it is one of the most important practices of Gardening/Farming.
Mulching is nothing but covering the soil around your plants with organic matter; mainly dried leaves.
Covering the top layer of soil with dried leaves prevents sunlight from entering the soil. So the first and direct benefit is reduction in loss of water due to evaporation. Thereby reducing the need to frequently water the plants. (Well… we all know this.. so whats new?, you’re asking!)
While this was a common understanding, the lesser known fact is that, the organic matter (dried leaves in our example) also entraps the moisture from atmosphere, thereby keeping the soil moist. Hence there is a drastic reduction in both the frequency and quantity of water required to be supplied.
The third crucial benefit is that since it prevents sunlight from reaching the soil, it also prevents weeds from growing. Hence there is no depletion of nutrients from the soil.
We know that a healthy soil is a one which has a high level of microbial and insect activity. Now, there is a particular environment that these microbes love, that is, the darkness and humidity. And mulching exactly does that. It creates the required darkness by blocking sunlight and an ideal humidity level by entrapping moisture. This enhances the microbial activity in the soil manifold!
The last one, the leaves that are used for mulching, decompose over a period of time and act as a great nutrient for plant growth. So the plants have enough nutrients because they don’t have to compete with weeds and there is a continuous supply from the leaves.
Mulching indeed is one of the most undervalued gardening and farming practice!
Disclaimer: The images used in this post do not belong to reemasgarden.com