We often receive emails from our readers, asking doubts about their experiments with sustainable living. So, here’s a section dedicated to you – TBI’s ‘agony aunt’ for all things green.
Urban lifestyle has brought with it many changes. Some good and some bad. But the one party that has lost out in our need to adopt the “urban way of living” is the environment. The impact of our deeds has been profound on the land and some of these changes are not as visible as others. For instance, the soil around our homes has lost its fertility due to the rampant use of chemical-laden home cleaning products, and the constant air pollution.
To try and fix this very problem, Riti Ranjan, a resident of Bengaluru, got in touch with us this week, asking how she can mulch her yard to revive the lifeless soil there.
In simple terms, mulching is a gardening technique of covering soil with organic or inorganic matter to create favourable conditions for the plant to grow. Here, we share tips on organic mulch created using dry leaves, grass and wood shavings that cover soil, protect water from evaporation and decompose to form fertiliser for the plants.
Mulching can be quite tricky, especially if you are trying your hand at it for the first time. So, to help us guide Riti, we contacted Avanee Jain — the founder of Upaj, a label that sells grow-kits that make gardening easy. Every kit comes with seeds, cocopeat, a biodegradable pot and organic fertiliser; all you need is to water the plants regularly. But this time, our conversation was about mulch — the soil reviving and plant preserving elixir.
Who Should Mulch?
Riti’s issue was that the garden of the place she had moved in had not been cultivated for months. As a result of which the soil had become less fertile. She tried planting seeds and saplings but every one of them died a thirsty, untimely death. And mulching is one solution she sees for this problem.
Our expert, Avanee agrees.
She says that while adding mulch to lifeless soil is a good way to revive it, mulching is not limited to gardeners facing this issue. “Anyone who wants to save water should mulch their potted plants, planters and other spaces which have exposed soil. Mulching forms a cover on the soil which in turn helps in saving water from evaporation. Mulching also helps in saving roots from burning due to the hot summer afternoon sun. It adds a valuable amount of organic matter to your garden soil. Anyone who wants to indulge in regenerative gardening practices should mulch. This is a small contribution you can make from your own home garden to the climate crisis,” the Gujarat-based entrepreneur shares.
- Begin with digging and pulling out weeds and perennial roots from the ground. Make sure you don’t take out just the stems but also pull out the roots so the weeds don’t regrow.
- Now, if you are planting a new garden, make a bed for the plants with moist soil, compost and cocopeat. If you are unsure about the fertility of your soil, try this natural fertiliser made of cow dung, and cow urine, among others.
- If your neighbours, neighbouring streets etc. have trees, get collecting the fallen dry leaves. Also, collect grass cuttings, plant trimmings, wood shavings. They are your mulch. In case you don’t have any of these, purchase some mulch material from the nearest nursery.
- Once the bed is made, spread out the mulch evenly on it. The mulch should be between 1-2 inches tall. “For potted plants, add about 2 inches of mulch on top of the soil surface,” shares Avanee.
- Keep watering the plants as you always do. This organic mulch will keep water from evaporating so in a few weeks, you will realise the plants need less water.
- “To be able to mulch on a regular basis, keep collecting fallen leaves, cut grass, pruning of larger shrubs, shredding of a bark of a fallen tree. Maintain a large bag or large drum. Once it is full, you can spread it as a thick layer around the stem of the plants. Make sure you cover the surface of exposed soil around the whole bed. If pieces are large, consider cutting/chopping/shredding them into small pieces. It makes it look neat and even,” Avanee tells The Better India.
Mulching is a great idea for urban gardeners since it conserves water, adds to the fertility of the soil and keeps weeds from growing. We hope these tips help you make your garden lush and thriving. If you need any assistance or practical tips about sustainable living, share your query with us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)