What on earth is mulch?

by Natasha Starkell | 06.06.2013 | gardening , mulch | 0 comments | Rating: 0 votes

What on earth is mulch?

What on earth is mulch?

Mulch is the (slightly weird) name for the stuff you might spread around or over a plant to enrich or insulate the soil. The word dates from the 1650s - probably from the Middle English molsh "soft, moist" (see full entymology here), which helps explain w

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Mulch is the (slightly weird) name for the stuff you might spread around or over a plant to enrich or insulate the soil. The word dates from the 1650s - probably from the Middle English molsh "soft, moist" (see full entymology here), which helps explain what it’s supposed to be for.

You’ll often see gardening instructions to mulch your containers and beds (particularly at this time of year)[link back to April to do list] - and that really just refers to the principle of covering the bare soil with something that’ll help keep the earth soft and moist (ie limit water evaporation), with the bonus feature of suppressing weed growth through keeping out sunlight.

What can you use as a mulch?

At a very basic level it can be plastic sheeting (ideally perforated to allow water to drain through) - and if you fly over the Channel Island of Jersey at this time of year you’ll find half the island is somewhat surreally covered in plastic - under which is its crop of Jersey Royal potatoes.

So that’s mulch on an industrial scale, but most people use in their gardens a mulch of an organic material such as bark chippings, or leaf mould (rotted down leaves), which have the added benefit of themselves decomposing over time into the soil to provide extra nutrients. These mulches will need topping up.

Alternatively you can go for the permanent, decorative option, and layer on whatever takes your fancy: crushed glass chippings; pebbles and gravel; broken fragments of your ex’s CD collection...

How to apply

The important thing is to make sure the underlying soil is a) weeded, b) not frozen and c) well watered. Then pile your mulch on to a depth of at least 5cm (roughly a finger’s length, if you don’t have a ruler to hand), taking care to spread it around the base of a plant, and not pile it against the stems.

You can continue to water and feed the plants as normal.

And do less weeding. Happy day!

 


Natasha Starkell
Written by Natasha Starkell

Working mum, struggling with gardening chores.

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