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Polkadot mulch

 
Posts: 43
Location: Lowell, Massachusetts, USA
forest garden bee
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I came up with this technique, and I am calling it "polkadot mulching". I doubt it's original. Do you do this? Share experiences, alternatives, advice...

My journey: https://permies.com/t/72722/soil-health-strategy
https://permies.com/t/71116/soil-health

The technique

I used compost, but this is for all mulches (wood chips, leaves...).

Take some land with a ground cover, and make mounds (or rows) of mulch in a polka dot (or stripe) pattern.

Goals and theories:
- The ground cover will feed the mulch.
- to get plants to grow into the mulch: A lot of plants feed mulch. I put my compost pile near 2 big maples to get their help. I don't have many trees.
- cover soil for solar efficiency (with a tall ground cover)

My views on the cardboard method:
The practicality of covering wide areas with cardboard is variable and doesn't make sense for me right now. It's helpful to grow diverse plants and try to cover the ground with them. I like that grassy cover crops are cheap and easy. I might do cardboard killing later, but not before solving some problems (slopes, poison soil...).

Pictures will come.
 
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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[quoteGoals and theories:
- The ground cover will feed the mulch.
- to get plants to grow into the mulch: A lot of plants feed mulch. I put my compost pile near 2 big maples to get their help. I don't have many trees.
- cover soil for solar efficiency (with a tall ground cover) ]

I am curious to see the data that provides any evidence that plants feed mulch. In my research studies since 1970 I have never found any evidence that plants feed mulch, mulch does feed plants, in practice that is one of the reasons for using mulch, another being moisture retention.

Plants do grow feeder roots into their mulch, this is so they can draw nutrients directly from the mulch instead of waiting for those nutrients to leach down into the soil.
If you cover your soil with a tall ground cover, that ground cover serves as shade for the soil thus keeping the soil temperature lower than that of bare ground (the opposite of what solar efficiency is defined as).

I do like your ideas and I would love to see the photos when you post them.

Redhawk
 
David Smolinski
Posts: 43
Location: Lowell, Massachusetts, USA
forest garden bee
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Why I believe that plants feed mulch.:

I used to watch a bunch of farmer videos for fun. Many were from the SARE Youtube channel. All were about cover crops. This includes farmers from all around the US of A who experimented with various crops. In general they planted with a roller crimper seed drill, or broadcasted (often by plane). Some broadcasted while corn was growing. I think they crimper drilled in spring (but sometimes frost seeded) and drilled or broadcasted in fall.
Numerous farmers showed all the following to the point of redundancy.:
1. There were more soil animals where there was a strong cover.
2. Like you mentioned, roots punched through stuff.
3. A farmer begins the practice of keeping the soil well covered with live plants, and minimizing the amount that the soil is disturbed. On year x (x>2), he finds that the crop residue left after crimping rots a lot faster than it did on year 1.

My interpretation:
1. I thought more worms means more composting.
2. People have shown by shredding leaves that shredded ones rot faster.
3. Plants helped increase the rot rate.

Research and universities:

I have done minimal research. When I research, I favor stuff from certain universities. Aside from searching for university stuff, when I want an answer, I use plos.org, and pubmed.gov. I haven't invested time to do that for this topic.

There's lots of research on mycorrhizal fungi and how it rots stuff.:

She looks like an expert.
about the fungi

My other topic about my soil journey
 
David Smolinski
Posts: 43
Location: Lowell, Massachusetts, USA
forest garden bee
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Also, I like your ideas and info Bryant. I didn't know that plants pull nutrients directly from mulch. Thanks.
 
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