One of my first questions when I started allotment gardening was; What is Mulch? Everything I read talked about it with an air of everyone knows what it is, however I had no clue. Maybe you are in the same boat and if so this post will provide you with the basic knowledge. I specifically wanted to know what organic mulch options there were and which would be best for my own allotment garden.
In short; Mulch is a material spread over the surface of the soil to protect and improve it. It can be made of either organic or inorganic materials. Examples of organic options includes cover derived from plant materials such as shredded bark, wood chips, straw and leaves. Organic mulch will decompose over time contributing organic matter to your soil.
Inorganic mulch on the other hand does not break down quickly, or sometimes at all, and is used more often for weed control and moisture retention. Be aware you may find it hard to remove inorganic options, thinking of old carpets, at a later date if it has been in place for a long time. Examples of inorganic mulch include plastic sheeting, landscape fabric and rubber mulch.
Why Use Mulch in Your Garden?
There are several reasons and benfits for using mulch in your allotment garden; these include weed suppression by blocking sunlight, moisture retention by reducing evaporation of water, soil temperature regulation by insulating the soil, when using organic mulch you are improving soil health as the materials breakdown, controlling soil erosion by protecting the soil from the wind and rain and for some mulch has an aesthetic appeal.
When you are selecting a mulch option for your garden it is important to consider the plants, local climate and your specific garden goals. It’s often beneficial to use a combination of mulching materials to provide a range of benefits. Additionally, rotating or changing mulch types over time can help maintain soil health and prevent issues such as nutrient imbalances.
In my next post I will go into more detail on the different organic mulch options there are, what the benefits of each option is and what considations you need to make before using it yourself. If you have any questions or comments on mulch please leave them below.