Will Too Much Mulch In The Raised Garden Bed Suffocate My Plants

Does the covering suffocate your plants in the raised garden bed? In some cases, yes, it can, but these conditions are caused by lack of education, not any problems caused by the covering itself.

raised garden beds

How coverings work in nature.

It is through this lens that we can understand how this natural process works, and then consider how to imitate this process in our own backyard garden.

In any given square foot of natural covered land, there are many factors at work. If we can get even half of the natural activities in the garden bed, we will be on the right track.

In the natural environment, the cover consists of fallen leaves, annual withering of understory plants, and fallen branches that catch grass and leaves. Then, this layer will decompose over time, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. It all depends on the climatic conditions of the location you see.

Some trees have fallen a layer of deep leaves, and some trees have almost no leaves, because they are evergreen plants. The natural system also forms shadows in dense shrubs, which can concentrate the coverage.

When there are thick shadows, the mulch will quickly decompose into compost, because these areas can retain water for a longer time, thus supporting the soil life. Exposed sites often dry out and inhibit soil life.

This insight can help you understand how to apply mulch to any given area or garden.

The cover/soil interface is a biological hot zone, where surface elements and small life forms interact with underground life forms. It is through these interactions that mulch is transformed into soil.

This is a lesson to be learned. Life forms break down coverings for us. The more life there is in the garden, the faster the mulch "disappears" and needs to be replenished.

Because there is no natural system from me to cover our garden bed, this task falls on us. This is especially true for raised garden beds.


How much cover should I use?

For trees, the amount of mulch needed to help maintain moisture and limit evaporation does not exceed 4 inches in dry climates and only 2-3 inches in tropical regions. In raised garden beds, the thickness of the covering should not exceed 2 inches.

This is because the raised garden beds are watered more frequently. Generally speaking, these beds drain down faster than the ground garden beds.

In the typical rainy season, the mulch we put on the garden bed will soon be transformed into soil, which can only last for 2-3 months. In a dry climate, the mulch will last longer because the moisture content is much lower. A good rule of thumb is this. With the increase of water content, soil life increased exponentially.

It can be understood in this way. Subtropical and temperate soil and weather conditions create a slow system. The tropical climate has created a fast system. In fact, it is a system that never sleeps.

Depending on where you live, the rate of decomposition of the cover and how often you need to add it will be determined.

raised garden bed

Why does mulch help the garden?

Coverings help gardens because if they provide shelter, food and protection for millions of micro life forms, they all play a role in soil creation and nutrient processing. Covering also helps limit water loss, and all life forms need stable water availability to thrive.

Wherever you live, the garden will benefit from mulch. All animals need shelter and mulch provides protection for life forms living in the soil/surface interface area.

This is a biological mixed site, which is conducive to both aboveground life forms and underground life forms.

This area may be the busiest place in your garden. In the place with activities, life and death occur at the micro level.

This is one of the mechanisms for creating available nutrients for plants. It can also be a carbon rich area, helping to retain moisture.

It is also in this interactive area that worms and other soil tunnel life forms are active. Through their movement, they create a way for oxygen to penetrate into the soil structure.

The mulch also prevents evaporation water loss caused by wind and sunlight.

We'd better re-examine the natural system we discussed at the beginning of this article and realize that in a healthy ecosystem, there is little bare soil. Any vacant space will soon be occupied by new factories.

It may be what some people call a weed, but a curious gardener may regard it as an opportunist. This process causes the soil to be covered with plants, mulch, or shadows.

What mulch is safe for plants?

Any mulch that is dry and contains a small amount of green material is safe for most plants.

Trees will benefit from heavy mulch such as sawdust, while elevated garden beds will work well with straw and/or sawdust. Recycled cardboard is also very good, natural fiber mats and old carpets are also very good.

The cover to avoid is the green waste of fresh cut plant materials and the thick fecal layer. In general, these materials may create adverse conditions for your garden because of their high nitrogen content.

The heat produced by the decay of this material will burn the plants. The exception to this rule is where the shredding and lowering methods of coverings are used as trimming and cutting locations.

This approach is mainly used to manage good sustainable cultivation environments that recognize the value of in situ mulching systems and are often centered on specific trees, known as mineral accumulators.

These plants are usually pioneer species and legumes, but this is not a prerequisite.

Does the covering breed disease?

In some cases, the cover may carry disease. Unless the cover has placed the disease in it, the disease is likely to be a condition of soil transmission, benefiting from the life rich areas in the soil/cover interface area.

Sometimes the covering may be the starting point of the disease outbreak, but it is likely to occur after a local event.

One thing that can lead to this nature is the extensive use of coverings, which tightly wrap and severely restrict the flow of air through the coverings. This can lead to anaerobic conditions, which are the main vectors of disease.

When the air can pass through the layer relatively freely, the cover is the most effective and beneficial. As a gardener, it is best to avoid creating any anaerobic conditions if possible. If so, the possible solutions are as follows.

A matrix that considers your soil as a favorable location for bacteria and fungi to inhabit.

The same is true of mulch and compost. If the disease controls a location, it will be occupied and will not be used for beneficial microbial habitat.

This process can be reset by creating a good compost ready for use in the garden, obtaining a garden fork or something similar, and turning the soil over. Expose the soil to the sun for about one day at a time, and repeat the process several times.

After a few laps, add plenty of fresh compost to the garden.

What you need to do is to kill bacteria through farming and sunlight, and in the process of adding compost, you can allow beneficial bacteria and fungi in the compost to occupy the places where diseases live.

This is something you can try before picking up the chemical bottle.

Does mulch encourage worms?

Yes, if the cover is kept wet and thick enough to avoid the heat during the day, the worms will be active under the cover. Many small life forms will be active, which will help promote the healthy growth of plants.

Do worms help aerate the soil under cover?

Yes, if the earthworm is local to your area, the worm will inflate the soil under the wet cover. The movement of worms in the soil creates voids that help to oxygenate the soil.

Most of the soil is surrounded by worms. It is amazing when the covering is placed in an area where there was no garden before. It won't be long before the worm arrives. I can't understand how they know when to come.

Healthy soil is active soil. Earthworms are usually the standard for healthy gardens, but these animals cannot exist alone. They need a support network of symbiotic life forms to help build a community, which in turn supports your plants.

The whole process can only be carried out when the conditions are appropriate, which is where the covering is suitable. In your garden, you become the conductor of the orchestra.

raised garden bed

Which covers should you avoid?

Covers with water repellent behavior should be avoided. This behavior is called hydrophobicity, and it is applicable to such covers as lawn cuttings or newspaper clipping.

Good mulch provides a necessary environment for the interaction between soil transmitted life forms and healthy plants. To some extent, it is a kind of life regulating material.

When a cover is used incorrectly, the whole process can be stopped quickly. A special type is lawn clippings. What happens when grass chips are used as blankets? The layer becomes hydrophobic.

Hydrophobic activity or water repellency is usually the result of fungal activity colonizing the surface of the mulch and may result in water not being filtered through the mulch. It's basically waterproof.

Any water flows out of the mulch and cannot be soaked, which will have a double impact on the soil moisture level.

This double hit occurs because the bottom of the mulch will absorb some water from the soil below and take it away from the plant roots. It also severely restricts any water entering the soil surface through hydrophobic action.

We experienced this through our neighbor's garden. In the middle of our rainy season, he used a hose to water vegetables and had to drill holes in the cover to make water enter the soil. It seems that these plants have been without water for many days and are in poor condition.

Covering is probably the greatest benefit of garden production, whether it's growing food like us or simply planting flowering plants. The same rules apply in all respects.