Protecting your soil isn’t just a winter task, says Bob
IT’S commonly advised to lay mulch after the heavy rains of winter in order to retain moisture and suppress weeds. However, late spring is also an excellent time to apply loose mulch under and between most crops, as the growing plants are in need of extra nutrients.
Of course it’s still best to do so after heavy rain, or after heavy watering, as it gives you the best chance of retaining some of that essential moisture. More than that, though, mulch stops the top layer of soil drying out, thus effectively increasing the volume available to roots throughout summer droughts.
Established weeds should be eradicated before you mulch. Once a thick layer has been applied it will prevent new weeds germinating, reducing time spent weeding. Mulch also seals the soil, preventing splashing when watering, which can result in rot and mould spores landing on plants. This is vital for French beans and the squash family – you should never wet the flowers of these.
Potatoes benefit hugely from mulch. It ‘earths’ them up (do your actual earthing up before mulching), then keeps their root run cooler and moister, which they prefer. A frequent but unnoticed benefit of mulch is the reduction of pests. Obviously some are hindered, finding mulches difficult to
Grass cuttings make an effective – and free – mulching material Laying a thick layer of mulch will prevent weeds, retain moisture and hinder pests