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Green Mulches: Feed Your Soil This Fall

Green mulches
Plants like clover may look like weeds, but they’re actually important cover crops.

It’s fall: how does your garden grow? While fall is the season of dormancy, it’s also the season to plan for the spring. Right now is the best time to enrich your garden soil and get it ready for a new year of growth.

What is Mulch?

Mulch is anything that you place on your garden soil with the intention of having it gradually turn into soil in place. Mulches come in many different formats, from leaves to compost to layers of straw. Some mulches are designed to stay around the garden for a long time. The bark mulch that you add to tidy your garden and protect it from sun, rain, and weeds is one of those. Other mulches decompose rapidly, such as a thin layer of fall leaves. If you want to get more complicated, you can add multiple layers of different types of organic materials such as straw, leaves, and compost in a process called lasagne gardening. This makes a deep and nutrient-rich garden bed.

Green mulches
When you’re choosing cover crops, add plants that bring nitrogen into the soil.

How Do Green Mulches Work?

A green mulch is a mulch that you grow. It’s also known as green manure or as a cover crop. Some examples of green mulch include fall rye, clover, fava beans and peas. These plants are ones that grow quickly and well during the short fall season.

Cover Crops Protect the Soil

When you grow plants on your soil during the winter, your garden receives several benefits. These fast-growing plants cover the soil during the fall and winter rain and snow. Their roots move into the soil and their leaves shelter it, so that when the weather comes or your gutter systems overflow from fall rain, the soil doesn’t wash away as easily.

Green Mulches Reduce Soil Compaction

Growing plants as a green mulch also opens up the soil before the spring. If you have soil that’s compacted because you’re making a garden in a place where a pathway was before, adding a green mulch means that those roots go to work for you, gently digging up that ground.

Cover Crops Enrich the Soil

Many cover crops also enrich the soil as they grow. A crop like peas will move nitrogen from the air into the soil, freeing up nutrients that allow new plants to grow.

A cover crop is a temporary solution to improve your garden soil, and when the weather turns to spring it’s time for your green mulch to retire. In the spring when you want to grow other plants, you can either turn over your living mulch and add its nutrients to the soil, or you can add another layer of leave mulch on top of it to encourage your cover crop to rot.

When you’re thinking about adding new gutter systems to your home, contact Harry Helmet. We’re here to help you transform your garden landscape, beginning with your drainage system. Add gutter covers or gutter heat to keep your water flowing and manage the inflow of fall leaves. Contact us today for more information about our Gutter Helmet and Helmet Heat products.

Written by Del Thebaud

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