Regardless if you’re growing a tiny backyard garden or operating a large-scale organic farm, mulch should be one of your very best friends. Not only do mulches help keep pesky weeds at bay, but they also can help prevent disease, enrich the soil with organic matter, conserve moisture, and maintain soil temperature. Besides, mulch makes your garden look really nice when you’re snapping pictures to brag about your produce to friends and family.
Many farmers and gardeners prefer biodegradable mulches, like grass clippings, leaves, and straw, because these decompose back into the earth as organic matter. An added bonus is that these mulches are oftentimes free and easy to put together with yard and kitchen waste. Grass clippings, for example, have lots of nitrogen that your crops need to grow for the entire season.
You can use an organic or an inorganic mulch on an organic farm: now wrap your head around that! Studies conducted by the University of Illinois, a leader in modern farming strategies, tend to favor organic mulches because they raise the soil’s pH levels and add nutrients into the soil, serving as an all-natural fertilizer. Types of mulch commonly used on large-scale farms include buckwheat hulls, crushed corncobs, hay, hops, manure, peat moss, pine needles, sawdust, and wood chips. Clearly, you can use your imagination when it comes to mulch and use lots of things around your farms that look like mere scraps or trash.
Mulch is important to organic farming because it substantially reduces weed and disease problems without the use of chemical pesticides. Mulches always work best when combined with routine physical cultivation, crop rotation, and cover crop planting. In most planting regions, mulch is best applied in the mid-spring, when the soil is pretty warm and the roots are actively growing. Start putting the mulch down immediately after a watering session so the soil temperature can stay warm on cool nights, and keep your organic mulch moist when laying it down. Organic farming certainly isn’t an easy endeavor, but mulch makes it all come together in ways nothing else can.