The vegetable garden in winter seems to be asleep, but this does not mean that it really is; the soil must be worked, fertilized with mature manure and covered with mulching material: only in this way in spring we will have a fertile soil ready for sowing. In this regard, let's see how and why to carry out the winter mulch.
Winter mulch, how to proceed
If the soil has been fertilized with pelleted organic fertilizer therefore devoid of plant remains, it will be advisable to make an adequate plant cover, to prevent water and frost from penetrating too deeply, in order to avoid stagnation and inhibit activity soil microbial. In any case, it is good to know that you don't even need to mulch: a light layer of leaves or vegetable waste, well chopped, will be enough to keep the soil warmer and allow air to circulate. It is possible to exceed the thickness only if a dry and light material such as straw is used. As for the other materials it is preferable to add them as they deteriorate. For further information, read the article "Mulching of the soil, which materials to choose"
Winter mulch, why is it necessary?
Winter mulching may prove necessary; in fact, it returns to the ground that cover which is generally guaranteed by spontaneous herbs, but which has been removed in order to be able to cultivate. With this system you can prepare compost in the place where it is needed; in this way you will save the effort of having to transport from the compost pile. In this regard, it might be useful to distribute rock flour or algae limestone on the mulch, which are excellent organic fertilizers and compost activators, thus facilitating the decomposition process of the mulching layer.
Winter mulch, useful recommendations
Even if the winter mulching is a useful operation, it can have some contraindications. Here's how to avoid problems that can compromise our crops.
- If the soil is heavy and clayey and the winter is very rainy, in spring it is good to check the mulching state: if it is still too thick and compact, it must be lightened to allow the sun to dry the soil
- Be careful even in the case of very humid soils and prone to the settlement of snails. If these start to proliferate too much, it will be necessary to eliminate them for some time
- Another reason why it is preferable to avoid mulching that is too thick is represented by the possibility that mice find refuge there in the winter months: if you mulch under fruit trees, it is better not to do it very close to the trunk.
Of course in winter mulching is not only useful on bare soil, but also and above all to warm the soil near winter vegetables. In this case it is advisable to prefer straw: it keeps drier and avoids rottenness at the roots.