MULCHING FOR THE SELF SUFFICIENT GARDENER

This is the technical term for the operation of putting down a mulch – which is a surface layer of old manure, hop manure, leaf-mould, wilted weeds, lawn mowings or anything similar.

To be really effective the covering should be spread out over the area occupied by the roots of bush and cane fruits, and over as wide an area as is practicable for tree fruits. It should be made sodden before it goes down, and if it can be 2 in. thick, it is so much the more effective. Weeds should first be removed from the area to be covered and the soil loosened with the hoe or lightly pricked over with the fork; and if the ground is dry it should be soaked with water.

A mulch serves the purposes of hindering evaporation of moisture from the soil that is covered; of preventing shallow roots being overheated by strong sun; and, when manure forms the mulch, providing additional food, this being carried down below by rain or by subsequent waterings.

This attention is specially desirable where the soil is fight or otherwise very freely drained. All trees and other fruiting plants, whatever the nature of the soil, recently planted and not yet without a proper hold on the ground, will be encouraged to go ahead briskly if a wet mulch is given them before dry spring weather causes the soil about their roots to lose its moisture.

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