What is mulch?
Mulch is defined as any material that is placed on the surface of cultivated soil, be that over beds, fields or over compost in individual pots. It could be something like our jute mulch mats, cardboard, straw, hay or bark chippings. It’s a technique that’s been around for millennia, but it seems to have fallen out of favour through modern farming methods.
What are the benefits of mulch?
The benefits of mulch are widespread, both for domestic gardeners and widescale horticulturalists, farmers and foresters. We have certainly noticed the benefits of mulch our gardens and in our Buy Land Plant Trees project. Here are a few of the benefits of mulch:
- Conserves water – mulch conserves water by reducing water evaporation from the soil. Mulch (in most cases, but particularly in the case of our Mulch Mats) allows water to permeate through it into the soil below. However, the barrier the mulch forms between soil and the air reduces the amount of water that evaporates off the soil’s surface. Studies of mulch in draught-prone countries have demonstrated how the water-saving properties of mulch improve crop growth.
- Naturally suppresses weeds– using mulch to cover soil and compost where plants or crops are growing creates a natural barrier against weeds. The weeds don’t have access to light, can’t photosynthesise, and therefore perish and eventually rot away into the ground.
- Reduces competition for water and nutrients – by reducing the number of weeds it ensures that there is less competition for plants. This means they can access more water and nutrients, helping them to grow more effectively! When looking at this in an agricultural context, using mulch reduces the large-scale use of herbicides which is beneficial both to the wider environment and us.
- Reduces temperature fluctuations – Mulch protects plant roots against temperature changes by acting as an insulator. They help to regulate soil temperature to keep plant roots cool in the summer and warm in the winter ensuring plants can continue to grow well. Our Mulch Mats are particularly good at this because of their density.
Why are Chimney Sheep’s Jute Mulch Mats a great mulch option?
- No faffing required – we love our Mulch Mats because they are quick and easy to use. There is no shovelling, cutting to size or pinning down required. Just slot them around the base of the plant you want to protect and hey presto! They sit firmly on the ground and what we find is that weeds and grass they suppress, sort of grow into the fabric of the jute. They don’t manage to get through but they help to anchor the mulch mat to the soil, so it sits nice and firmly in place.
- Super versatile – our Mulch Mats can be used in gardens, allotments, greenhouses, on house plants – the list is endless! The great thing about them is that you can use them in individual standard plant pots or for putting round individual plants in larger beds.
- Mulch for every plant – because each plant will get its own little bit of mulch all to themselves, the concentration of mulch per plant is much higher than having to share lots of mulch (like with straw or bark chippings) with other plants.
- Provides nutrients for the plants as they compost down – jute is a natural vegetable fibre so once it has composted down, it provides lots of nutrients to help plant growth. Helping to deter greedy slugs and snails - while we can never promise that our Mulch Mats will completely deter slugs and snails, they do make it a lot harder for the greedy molluscs to gain access and devour precious plants. We’ve had a lot of success from pre-soaking the mats in the Hole-less Hosta garlic decoction, which seems to have been very effective at persuading the slugs and snails to go and consume something else. Mwah ha ha ha. It’s not kind but nor are they!
- Made from recycled coffee sacks – jute is such a fantastic fibre which works perfectly for mulch. We don’t like seeing great materials go to waste, so we use recycled jute coffee sacks to make our Mulch Mats.
- No plastic – unlike the polypropylene versions, these Mulch Mats are completely plastic-free which means they will biodegrade and compost down completely, without leaving microplastics in the soil.
We have single-sized packs of Mulch Mats if you are just looking for one particular size for your gardening project. We also make Jute Tree Spats which are perfect for when you are planting baby trees. Need lots of our Mulch Mats or Tree Spats? Get in touch!