Mulch – Originates from the mid 17th century: probably from dialect mulch “soft” used as a noun from Old English melsc, mylsc.
DOUBLE GROUND AGED NATIVE MULCH
- Is from recently cut green leaf pruning and brush material.
- Aged mulch is composted for a short while, then ground again.
- Naturally rich in micro and macro nutrients along with big amounts of proteins from new buds.
- Feeds the soil microbes while adding an additionally diverse population
- An important product for every landscape.
- Natural repellent to beneficial and harmful insects
- Pleasant aroma
- Beautiful color
- Ranges in processing techniques
- Dried cedar mulch tends to be nutrient deficient and starved of hydration
- Great for paths or cleared seating areas.
FRESHLY GROUND NATIVE
- Has not been processed or composted
- One of the best ways to break up heavy clay
- Used to temporary road beds
- Best used for Erosion control
- Tends to carry more weed seeds
- High microbe activity due to the decomposition process and feedstock from smothered grasses and weeds
- Made from dry wood waste (construction scraps, mill waste, or old pallets)
- Some use ground up hazardous CCA – treated wood and chemical binder is used for color to stick.
- Dyes are not only toxic to soil microbes, but is a known carcinogen.
- Are made from the outer protective layer of trees
- Low in nutrients
- Frequently contain suberin that creates a waterproof “shield”
- Slow to breakdown
- High Carbon Ratio – 450:1 – this means they often rob plants of the available nitrogen in the soil.
OTHER TYPES OF ORGANIC MULCHES
- Straw – Seed-heads have been removed. Ornamental beds need straw to be applied at a depth of 4″ to be effective.
- Newspaper – Most newspaper sections are printed with soy-based ink. Eight sheets of paper can be used over an area to kill grass and weeds. Then spread 2″ of mulch to aid in composting and preventing the newspaper from blowing away. For the longest prevention of weed seeds germinating, is to apply shredded newspaper at a rate of 5-6″.
- Pine Needles – Are recommended for acid loving plants or pine trees. They are easy to find since pine trees drop their needles at a fast rate. Raking the needles to use as a mulch, is a free/cheap sustainable way to mulch in the Fall. Then when Spring comes around, apply a native mulch application on top of the needles, so that they can be naturally composted.
- Plastic Mulches – Are used to warm up the soil during the Spring. They can produce anaerobic conditions due to limited ventilation that leads to pathogens and damaging fungi.
- Rubber – doesn’t decay; doesn’t feed or house insects; strong stench releases toxic gases like VOCs and hydrocarbons like PAHs. They have been found to cause irritation of the nasal and respiratory passages, central nervous system damage, depression, headaches, nausea, sissiness, eye and kidney damage, and dermatitis. Less effective than even raw wood chips. Leachate, or liquid extract from tires can kill an entire community of algae, zooplankton, snails, and fish. This includes marine life from seaweeds to plankton.
A living mulch, or cover crop, is a low-growing plant used in the vegetable garden as a mulch. The cover crop is usually grown in between rows or around plantings. Using a living mulch is a form of companion planting where plants are grown together in order to benefit each plant. Crops have seen lowered numbers of pest instances.
- White Clover – A popular choice because it releases nitrogen rapidly when decomposing; tolerates traffic; able to grow in the shade; and is a high crude protein.