Friday, July 5, 2013
Got Compost: PROTECT PLANTS FROM SUMMER HEAT - MULCH!: Summer has arrived on the Central Coast! We may enjoy the warm (hot!) weather but our overheated lawns and gardens need protection from s...
Summer has arrived on the Central Coast! We may enjoy the warm (hot!) weather but our overheated lawns and gardens need protection from soaring temps. In other words, it’s time to mulch.
Mulch is any material that protects the soil surface and allows air and water through. Organic mulches –mulches derived from plant materials, such as compost –not only protect the soil but add nutrients over time while enriching overall soil composition.
Mulch reduces evaporation from the soil surface, moderates soil temperature, and insulates roots from summer heat (and winter cold). Mulch suppresses weeds, reduces soil compaction, prevents erosion, and adds organic matter to the soil.
Summer mulch -
Apply 2-3” of compost around plants at midsummer to protect plants from hot weather and reduce the soil temperature by 10°F or more. Soil temperatures greater than 85°F can slow plant growth. The temperature of soil under mulch changes much more slowly.
Mulch protects bare soil from being compacted over time by the drying of soil particles in the sun and the beating of rain or irrigation. A thin layer of mulch will protect soil microorganisms and other beneficial soil borne organisms from cooking in the summer heat.
Almost all plants benefit from the protection of mulch. Vegetables that most benefit from summer mulching are eggplants, tomatoes, cauliflower, celery, potatoes, currants, and gooseberries. These crops especially appreciate cool, loose, well-drained soil.
Applying mulch -
Two cubic feet of compost mulch can cover an area of 8 square feet to 3 inches deep; one cubic yard of compost mulch covers an area of 108 square feet to 3 inches deep.
Mulch should be applied loosely and not compacted. Mulch should be kept back a few inches from the stems or crowns of plants and trunks of trees. If placed too closely, mulch can retain moisture and cause plant stems and trunks to rot.
Water can be delivered to plant roots through mulch into the soil. Drips systems set under mulch will more directly apply water to the root zone. Mulch can control insects and diseases, reducing or eliminating the spread of fungal spores often spread by the splashing of irrigation water or rain.
For more info visit GotCompost.com