Mulching means covering the ground with a layer of loose material such as compost, manure, straw, dry grass, leaves or crop residues. Green vegetation is not normally used as it can take a long time to decompose and can attractpests and fungal diseases.

 Mulches have several effects on the soil which help to improve plant growth:

• Decreasing water loss due to evaporation

• Reducing weed growth by reducing the amount of light reaching the soil

• Preventing soil erosion

• Increasing the number of micro-organisms in the top soil

• Adding nutrients to the soil and improving soil structure

• Adding organic matter to the soil

Alternative mulching materials include black plastic sheeting or cardboard. However obviously these materials do not add nutrients to the soil or improve its structure.

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