It’s that time of year, Spring, when everything starts to explode into flower and leaf. That means that as the soil warms, activity booms and its time to feed the soil biota.
We’re taking this time of growth to preparing our first ebook and it’s on mulching.
Mulch is both a protective layer and a slow source of food for soil biota. It helps regulate both temperature and moisture in the soil and as it breaks down, it’s components get eaten by bugs, microbes and fungi in the garden and then by our plants.
Mulching for Winter protects bare soil (should there ever be such a thing?) and helps protect plants from frost. For a while at the start of the season, it helps keep the temperature in the soil.
Mulching for Spring is done from a different perspective. It is also part of the run up to the ever more severe extremes of Summer.
Spring mulching is about getting a warming blanket back on the soil and getting the nutrient cycle kicked off again.
It is different to mulching at other times of year because, we are only adding a thin layer of organic material, stuff that will break down well while allowing and protecting new growth that is starting to pop up.
At this time of year, it’s good to add nutrient rich materials such as seagrass (if you can gather it legally) and some of the weeds that are around now, shredded of course. Many of the local Thistles are just humming with nutrients and break down quickly when shredded. If you’re game, Nettles are especially nutritious and make a nice, permeable mat.
But my favourite mulch, all year round, is the straw from the deep litter of the chook run.
This material has been ripped, shredded, and de-seeded, pooed on and some has been partially digested. It is a vibrant, living mix or rich organic material and both micro and macro organisms. The organic materials provide a buffer against the strength of straight chook poo (which can burn young plants and new roots and even temporarily kill off some of the soil biota) and invite immediate colonisation by the existing soil bacteria and fungi.
In short, it’s amazing stuff!