I may have blanketed my garden in mulch but there's never enough of the stuff. When last I addressed this mulch topic
, I explained the method I was exploring (see drawing above). I've been stifled by the fact that because we haven't had much rain, the grass doesn't grow, the lawns aren't cut ...and I don't get many loads of grass clippings which I use for mulch.
Underneath my trellis,where it is shady, the paths stay moister longer than in open country. Nonetheless, I am surprized how much dampness I can feel below the garden bed surface, even in full sun. I suspect that at this early stage the main game is to train the soil to readily share moisture through capillary action.
My set up is complicated by the fact that my original soil is sand and the larger particles in sand mean that their mechanical tension is less and the distance of potential water transit is shorter. Similarly, since I have covered my beds and pathways with a lot of mulch there may not be sufficient particle contact for water to travel laterally (see reference)
which means the whole experiment will be a failure.
However I have been using a Leeaky Hose
system to good effect along the centre of each garden bed and below the mulch layer . So here's hoping. I am in fact pursuing the same hydraulic principles.
Ultimately, what I'm doing is trench mulching and the irony is that the more I raise up the level of the pathways -- my trenches -- closer to the level of the garden beds, the more efficient I suspect the system will be.
So while I mulch the beds to suppress weeds, protect the soil from erosion, lessen evaporation, cool the earth, build biomass and encourage carbon break down to increase fertility, etc -- all the reasons one mulches -- I'm 'mulching' the pathways primarily to create water storage channels. The tragedy of heavy mulching -- this you learn as you go -- is that a thick layer of mulch atop a garden bed can prevent precipitation getting through to the soil and plant roots below. There are ways around it -- but it's like having a wet blanket on a dry bed.
The question that nags me is what element in the mix is supposedly going to be the most active in transporting water: the mulch layer or the sand or the transitional zone where mulch, manures and sand have fused already, creating a sandy loam. In my soil there is no clay.
I know I can store water but will it move? Will my water travel sideways...?
Thie system I'm after is modeled on one advocated by Tiny Eglington
. But since my garden is only 12 months old it will take time to mature it and culture
I'm thinking that if it works -- and I mean if it works well-- I can develop the principles involved by cross thatching the garden beds with cross channels of rolled up newspaper such that I divide the beds into smaller squares or rectangles so that groups of plants are moisture sourced on four sides. Burying rolled up newspaper -- either vertically or horizontally -- has proven a powerful -- and very efficient, water saving -- means to keep water up to my fruit treess, bananas and pawpaw.
In fact my garden has so much paper buried in it in it you could say it has been wallpapered or papier mache-ed!