A mulch is a layer of which is spread over the surface of the topsoil or around the plant to enrich the quality of the soil, improve the fertility, and insulate it – which helps conserve soil moisture. It reduces the growth of weed and adds to the visual appeal of the garden. Usually, a mulch is organic; it can be permanent in nature (for example, plastic sheeting) and temporary (for example, bark chips or bark dust – made out of chipped and shredded tree barks). Compost or manure mulches get incorporated into the soil naturally, through the activities of worms and other organisms. This is one procedure which is heavily used in both gardening and commercial crop production. Mulches, when applied correctly, can thoroughly improve the productivity of the soil, resulting in a better product.
Mulches are made up of various materials and depend on a number of factors. The availability of the material, the cost, appearance, the effects that the material has on the soil – including any chemical reactions, the pH value, combustibility, its rate of decomposition, durability of the material, etc. Apart from organic mulches which are generally made of materials such as – leaves, grass clippings from mowed lawns, sphagnum or peat moss, kitchen scraps, hay, straw, wood chips, shredded newspaper, wool, animal manure, cardboard, etc. Plastic (colored) mulches are also used.
How Do Mulches Help?
Nowadays, it has become quite ubiquitous to spot black plastic mulches for sale, in gardens, home centers and online. Black mulch becomes much popular and is ideal for a small garden as it can be used to grow a number of crops and can be easily applied. Black mulch is made out of recycled plastic and has quite a number of uses. Following are the uses of black mulches –
Keeps the Soil Warm
As black mulch is made out of recycled black plastic, it is an opaque black body, absorber and radiator. Black plastic is a very good absorbent of sunlight and it transfers the heat into the ground. It almost has a greenhouse effect – it helps regulate the temperature of the soil and keeps the plants warm. As the thermal conductivity of soil is high, when compared to that of air, much of the thermal energy is transferred through conduction, if the contact between the plastic mulch and the soil is good. Because it helps regulate the temperature of the soil, it is a brilliant beginning mulch for a garden which is often cold or left in the shade.
Provides Protection for The Plants
Black plastic mulches are quite hard in comparison to organic mulches; hence their helps to suppress the growth of weeds in the vegetable or flower beds. When it is applied correctly and tightly over the surface of the soil, it prevents weeds such as dandelions and nettles from growing and smothering the plants.
Prevents Ground Contact
Black plastic mulches are also used by many to conveniently stop the vegetables from coming into contact with the ground. Contact with the ground for delicate fruits such as – watermelons, eggplants, tomatoes, squashes or peppers can result in rots, molds, or other infections. The usage of mulches help provides a protective barrier which keeps the fruits and the vegetables secure. It helps in keeping the edible parts of the plant clean and prevents the transference of soil-borne diseases, which can get stuck in the body of the vegetable or fruit.
Another important usage of black plastic mulches can be that they minimize the amount of nutrient leaching that usually happens when the surface of the soil is left unprotected, due to excessive rainfall. Black mulches can make a huge difference in the experience of gardening.