Mulching, mulching and composting the soil surface

Mulching, mulching and composting the soil surface

These concepts can be easily defined, but much more difficult to differentiate in practice, especially, that there are also intermediate solutions. The influence of litter on the life in the soil and its enrichment with humus is best seen in deciduous forests. The litter helps to maintain the proper soil structure, protecting it from damage - prevents drying out, cracks and crusts or fouling. In slightly shaded soil, soil animals are more active, therefore, the litter is transformed faster into a permanent source of nutrients for plants. Mulching also reduces the growth of weeds, which reduces the amount of work related to soil improvement.

Mulching is covering the soil surface with cut plants grown for green manure, non-flowering weeds, grass and other plants, that grow in the same place or in the immediate vicinity. Such organic material is completely decomposed by soil microorganisms in just a few summer weeks. You can also shallowly mix the plants with the soil with a hoe - then they will decompose even faster.

Mulching is covering the soil surface with material from outside the garden, like straw, slightly composted leaves or mowed, dry grass.

Surface composting consists in scattering and shallow mixing of the green mass of plants with the soil, slightly decomposed manure or partly decomposed compost mass. It is best to combine this treatment with sowing green manure on the plant bed, np. white clover or hopped alfalfa, which this layer will grow and accelerate the conversion of organic mass to humus.

About the value of mulching the surface, as well as composting the topsoil, we can learn a lot from the K.. Hanke (1963):

"When I wanted in 1952 year, turn shallow and rocky pasture soil on the northern slope of the Swabian Alb into fertile garden soil for our Institute, I ran into several obstacles. During the dry summer, the dug soil was strongly cracked, and the width of the slits corresponded to the thickness of the hand. Soil life has been destroyed. When the expected storms occurred after a long drought, the water drained quickly through the gaps to the deeper layers of the soil. The top layer of soil quickly silted up and sealed, so that precious water ran down its surface yes. that even the self-created terraces in the field could not prevent it. Once, while walking to a nearby forest, I paid more attention to a layer of wonderful forest litter. From that moment on, I dealt intensively with the problem of mulching the soil. With the help of the children, I collected beech leaves at the edge of the forest and in the ditches, maples and ash trees. From these leaves, after adding the ditch sludge. quicklime, organic fertilizers and fresh compost, we set up long compost piles. They were covered with slightly decomposed grass, and their humidity was maintained by watering the so-called. nettle manure and other vegetable manure. In late autumn, we covered the spilled beds evenly with a not too thick layer of half-decomposed leaf compost. This compost was not enough for the entire surface. Accordingly, the remaining arable land, after shallow loosening, covered with red beet leaves, radish, celery and chicory, weeds (before setting the seeds), nettles, grass and thin
a layer of half-decomposed compost. We also sowed winter rye in August, which we dug up or mowed for mulching in spring. Rye is a good forecrop for carrots, because after its cultivation the carrot flake (psila roses) avoids laying eggs on young carrot roots in early June. We sowed unoccupied beds with Landsberg mix in the fall (Gorzowska) and a hairy vetch. During the winter season, ground cover plants beautified our garden, and the soil changed its color and structure. A thin film has formed, under which earthworms and other soil organisms developed. We loosen the trampled paths with American pitchforks, which facilitated the access of air to the soil.

What the shallow loosened soil looked like in the spring? The litter has undergone extensive decomposition, rather than decomposed plant residues, we mixed shallowly with the soil. During warm weather, earthworms appeared en masse. The soil was moist, plump, porous, with a pleasant scent, much better than after deep pre-winter plowing. There were no longer any deep cracks, even during prolonged drought. Now it was possible to quickly and easily prepare the beds for sowing and planting ".

This description looks very interesting and alluring. However, you need to know your soil well. For example, heavy and dead clay soils must be deeply dug in autumn, for frost to crush the furrows. The soil must also not be unnecessarily compacted or trampled. The surface of the soil under the berry bushes can be mulched all year round. Pig manure is suitable for this purpose, scattered in late fall. However, you have to be careful with voles, they cannot be tolerated in the garden.

Tomatoes grow well in mulched soil, peppers and cucumbers, and the emerging weeds can be easily removed.