God invented mulch.
This title is a bold statement from a boy who never attended church but I am sure it has still got to be true… Our Creators' design genius, the natural process of mulching and soil creation carried out in our forest, and how this crucially interweaves with the whole cycle of life, is truly amazing.
As gardeners and farmers we can compost everything we can get our hands on. We will, however, never compete with, in terms of soil creation the large woods and forests we have around us.
With this in mind, perhaps it might be a good idea to look into how God goes about mulching the forest floor, with the idea of perhaps copying and if we can, lend a hand to speed up the process.
Perhaps it is best to start by explaining what mulch does or should do.
This is what Wikipedia tells you.
A mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of an area of soil. Its purpose is any or all of the following:
to conserve moisture
To improve the fertility and health of the soil
To reduce weed growth
To enhance the visual appeal of the area
This is, I suppose correct but perhaps we should call this Man mulch.
To find out what I really wanted to know about mulch, my Wiki search should have been, what is the purpose of Gods' mulch?
For this list the answer would have had to include:
Slowing the natural movement of water
Heating the soil
Adding plant nutrient
Buffer soil temperatures
Promotes soil life
Restores soil structure
Black plastic is used as a form of weed suppression and technically according to Wikipedia it could be classed as mulch. Not in my book, plastic sheeting has its uses. I am not an anti-plastic purest but to call it mulch for me… well, it feels kind-of-like swearing.
There are a whole range of organic materials we can use to mulch our garden. All are effective according to wiki’s list and they might include, straw, hay, bark chippings, grass cuttings, leaves, pine needle, vegetable waste from the kitchen, peat moss, saw dust (not treated timber) etc. The list is long and should also possibly include some non-organic materials like cardboard boxes and newspaper. All these can be added to our mulch for the garden but if we truly want to emulate Gods' work, then wood chippings are a mulchers' gold. Wood chippings are the material that comes out of the other end of an industrial shredder were you to put the whole tree though its grinding jaws. This means it would include leaves, twigs, branches, trunk and bark, all rough and varying in size from the very tiny to the small chunks. By shredding the tree in this way we can speed up the process that would happen naturally when a tree falls in a forest. Now if I could be so bold as to say there is one improvement I would like to have made to Gods' natural mulch… an improvement that, due to location of the ingredient, would rarely occur. This was clearly not a mistake by God but it is something as gardeners we have the ability to easily do ourselves. My final ingredient to the wood chippings would be shredded sea weed. Seaweed is wonderful, loaded with the full range o