Mulching

Straw berry mulched with grass for weed control

Strawberry mulched with grass for weed control

This is one of the most important ecological farming principles.  It involves placing plant  and  non plant  materials over the soil surface to maintain moisture and improve soil conditions. In the tropics and especially in Kenya which is mostly semi-arid, mulch helps reduce water loss from the soil, minimize weed competition, and improve soil structure. The right balance should be maintained at all times ensuring that only the right material is used and that the depth is also neither too deep nor too shallow.

Well mulched geranium for moisture retention

Well mulched geranium for moisture retention

Mulching also helps keep the soil warm in very cold seasons ensuring that crops continue thriving throughout the year.

Mulching for soil erosion control

Mulching for soil erosion control

Mulching should be done using the right materials such as grasses, maize stalks, bean stalks, banana leaves and such biodegradable  materials.

Mulch for regulation of soil temperature

Mulch for regulation of soil temperature

Live mulch, where crops are planted in such a way that they cover the whole ground with leaves is also highly encouraged. It not only saves on mulching material but also suppresses weeds and the outcome is increased yields.

Mulching for soild nutrition

Mulching for soil nutrition

 

Live mulch

Live mulch