What Homesteaders Need to Know About Mulching

| 10/22/2015 1:11:00 PM

James Whiteleavesformulch

For the burgeoning homesteader, mulch may feel like an afterthought. After all, landscapers use it to make plantings look pretty and well groomed — so what actual purpose does it serve? What you may not know is that mulch is much more than a simple pile of woodchips: It’s a critical component of a healthy garden, whether you cultivate vegetables, herbs, fruits or flowers.

Why Should I Mulch?

Mulching has a number of beneficial effects both for your soil and for your plants. For example, deep mulching can smother existing weeds and prevent new ones from germinating, according to one study from eOrganic. This allows desired crops to grow to their full potential. It also helps your plants’ infrastructure by promoting root growth.

Mulch regulates soil temperature and consistency. By providing a thermal layer, mulch allows soil to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Well-mulched soil will also lose less water through evaporation, which means you won’t have to water as often or as much. It will also help the soil absorb water by preventing problems like crusting and compaction. In the off-season, certain kinds of mulch can also be used as animal bedding.

What Kind Should I Use?

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