It is already October and the rain is pouring down from the sky as I write this. There is still a lot to be done in my garden. Among other things, the plastic tunnel greenhouse may be demolished, the tomatoes that were in it this summer were a flop, the wrong variety and planted too close together so that no air could get between the plants and you guessed it: Phythoptora or tomato disease. As a result, all tomatoes rotted before they were ripe. Too bad, but better next year. I too still learn from my mistakes.
And now mulching, what is it and why do we do it? In nature, just look at the forest, there is no bare ground. Only shortly after a forest fire, but it is also overgrown with weeds and saplings in no time, because the seeds survive in the humus layer. All soil in the forest is covered, either with moss or a dense herbaceous layer. The function of this is that the soil is covered and thus protected against weather influences and in this way the soil life is protected and nourished when the herb layer dies again.
And this is exactly why we have to mulch in the vegetable garden. I do not want to leave soil exposed, this is bad for the soil and bad for the soil life, after all, there is little or nothing to eat. We can use everything for mulch, vegetable waste that otherwise disappears on the compost heap or better you put a border of comfrey along your vegetable garden together with a corner of nettles. For example, if you want to harvest a cabbage, I saw the trunk just above the ground (it digests or sometimes sprouts again), I remove all ugly leaves and use directly on the place where I harvest to cover the soil, so I mulch. Soon the leaves will fall from the trees again, I will collect them and put them in my planters as mulch.
What exactly does soil life do? For a good soil life it is important that we mulch, this way you promote the soil life which consists of bacteria, protozoa and fungi. In addition, there are the earthworms that function as tunnels diggers and thus loosen or keep your soil, and the many small insects such as springtails and woodlice, centipedes. These insects shrink the plant material so that fungi and bacteria can do their job.
Why is soil life so important?
All soil life contributes to a healthy and nutritious soil. The plant roots secrete sugars and who loves that? THE BOTTOM LIFE.
This does not just happen, you can see it as a bit of exchange. At a certain point the plant lacks a certain nutrient and sends a signal to the soil life via the roots. The soil life reacts to release the relevant nutrient to the plant root and in return receives sugar in return. Bacteria do this in the immediate vicinity of the roots, this is called the rhizome, but fungi can bring nutrients to the plant roots from meters away. That is why it is so important that we do not walk on our plant beds and digging is of course completely out of the question.
This is actually a brief description of soil life, but it is a much more complex system and if you want to know more about it, read the book The soil food web.
In the autumn there is also a good layer of compost on the beds. This enriches the soil even more and provides a festive meal for our soil life. With a good layer I mean at least 3 to 4 centimeters. In this way you ensure a rich soil to be able to harvest a lot again next year.
Finally, about one kilo per m2 of lava grit is deposited on the plant beds. Lava grit has an advantage over lava flour on clay soil, it will really improve your soil. Lava flour and grit both provide 60 minerals to your soil. Every living creature consists of these 60 minerals and so your vegetable garden plants will never be deficient and you do not have to fertilize with a commercial fertilizer.
The plants you grow in this way have much more nutritional value than plants you grow according to the old vegetable garden standards because they are forced to grow by the fertilizers. They also become less sensitive to lice and other pests because they are stronger.
Finally: take care of nature and nature takes care of you!
All in all it has become quite a story, but this is the reason for a permaculture garden. Many books have been written about it, one of the better ones by Frank Anrijs will be published in mid-December.
This book will be offered for sale on this site with the nice extra that the book will be signed by the writer!(only in Dutch)
Always nice for a Christmas gift for someone or for yourself.
So keep an eye on my site!