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Stone mulching: Modus operandi in Mediterranean climate

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Houdi Permie folks,

working in a landscape after last years fires here in Portugal.

how are you approaching stone mulching in areas with wet and cold winter down to -5ºC / -7ºC and Hot dry summers 30-45ºC that can last 4 month?
I hear it is best when layered to increase temperature gradients and condensation  during the night in summer, while housing more critters. Claystone here.

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Posts: 1978
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
trees food preservation solar greening the desert
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I'm waiting for any informed answers to your question. All I can give is my experience, but I don't have a lot to say.

When we started building our school on a dry desert plateau 22 years ago, there was no greenery or other plant matter around bigger than your hand, so we mulched some of the trees with stones. We were watering our newly planted trees with buckets and later with tiny canals. gradually gradually over the years, some greenery came up along the tiny canals, and there's a bit of shade and microclimate of slight humidity so we don't bother with the stones anymore.

Pros: Stones shade the soil when there's no other mulch available which keeps the moisture in a little longer.
Stones don't get floated or blown away by the irrigation or wind.
Stones don't hog the irrigation water to themselves like natural mulch would if you were watering from above (but we aren't).

Cons: They don't seem to add much.
Years later I realised that around a lot of trees, the layer of stones was buried under blown in sand or greenery that had come up, so if that's going to be a problem, do think about the fact that it might happen.

I can't say if they actually helped or hindered the pathetic trees planted in the barren desert, though.
Pedro Serpa
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Hi Rebecca and thanks for sharing your experience.

The  reasoning im using with stones is: they absorb large amounts of heat and release it back to the air slower, keeping soil  and surrounding air warmer at night. At the same time, the temperature difference condensates air moisture (if any) that then drips to the ground at the same time that this moist soil underneath is protected from sun heat and diseccation.

There is plenty of stone here but steep slope where the stones are, so it is high input to to gather them. Just wondering how thick layers are people using, and strategies that combine with this. E.g we are using sudan grass that is sown now and grows more  around the stones.

I am also testing the sintropic agriculture approach, using log undermulching, superthick mulch of greens on in between wood lines, and extreme overstacking of plantings in time and space, realising it is best to have a small area well covered than a large one in stress. Now will try using cactuses for living mulch also, opuntia cladioles on top of most of the mulch as they release mucous moisture to greens and wood underneath.

Thanks and cheers


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