Mulching is the process by which we mimic what happens in the natural landscape.
What happens in the natural landscape?
Have you been to any forest area? Wooded area with no or minimal human interference?
How does the forest floor look?
If we do not sweep and collects leaves shed by the tree in the backyard? Yes, that is how the natural forest floor looks like.
Whatever falls on the floor remains there.. Shed leaves form a carpet, layer over the soil.
This layer remains as it is throughout the summer.
When rains arrive, leaves decompose. Some proportion of nutrients that the tree absorbs from the soil are present in these leaves. These nutrients, when leaves decompose, are returned to the soil.
Soil keeps receiving organic matter and retains its productivity. This is nature’s way of recycling nutrients.
Output of one element serves as input to some other element in the system. It is cyclic process. There is no end to it and hence there is no concept of WASTE.
Layer of leaves protects soil from scorching summer heat. Since sun-rays do not reach the soil directly, soil retains moisture.
Various insects in the soil find shelter under these leaves.
How exactly we do the mulching?
Here are the ways to do it. Let’s discuss.
Tree roots absorb various nutrients from the soil. Some proportions of those nutrients are present in the fallen leaves. Keeping some leaves under the tree, where they fall, will help soil get back some nutrients it has lost.
What we need to do? Nothing. Just don’t sweep away all the leaves. Let nature take its course. Leaves will decompose at their own pace. Nutrients will return to the soil.
If you are not comfortable keeping leaves as they are, no issues. There is one more way. We will discuss it soon.
We discussed about how we can protect the soil under and near the tree. What about the plants, plant-beds and pots in the garden?
Right, there will not be naturally falling leaves there. But we can still do mulching there.
Take some leaves, crush them and put them over the soil in plant-beds or planters.