How to mulch around fruit trees
Mulching is an easy way to cut down on water loss by plants and soil, as well as to slowly add nutrients back into the soil. Mulches come in organic and non-organic forms; and they affect soil acidity, water retention ability, and nutrient levels—all things that are important to good plant health. Healthy plants are best equipped to survive the drought conditions that we often have. Read on to learn how to mulch around fruit trees!
What to consider about mulching
When considering whether or not to mulch around your plants or trees, some factors to consider are the following:
Cost: What is the least expensive mulch available in your area? You might live next to a dairy, stable, or chicken farm, which could provide a very cost-effective manure. In certain parts of the country, straw is an easily obtainable mulch. Rice and buckwheat hulls are sometimes available, while most people have a steady source of grass clippings or leaves.
Leaves are my pick for mulch!
Soil Acidity: Certain things you may put on your soil could affect its acidity later on. Mulches that are acid include peat moss and pine needles. Non-acidic mulches are rice hulls, corncobs, grass clippings, sawdust (elm, hemlock, and locust), and leaves. Some inorganic mulches that will not affect soil acidity are black plastic, and weed-barrier cloths
Other things to consider when mulching are how long before it breaks down. Grass clippings will decompose the fastest, while wood chips usually last a couple of years. There is always a danger of introducing diseases, so knowing where your mulch is coming from will ease your concern. Using organic mulch that is weed free or has composted to a temperature of 130-140 degrees will cut down on weed problems from within.
Applying a mulch properly will cut down on problems later on. A mulch needs to be put on at a depth of 4 and ½ to 6 inches for maximum moisture retention. Summer mulching around fruit trees is great for water conservation and helping the ground retain the moisture.
Place the mulch around the base of the tree trunk in a ring-shaped circle. Extend it to one foot past the drip line. The drip line is the outermost perimeter of the tree, as if you were to draw a line around where the branches and leaves ended above.
Use a shovel or gloved hands to pull mulch away from the trunks of the fruit trees in the fall. This will prevent damage from rodents such as mice. In the case of fungus or mildew problems, remove the mulch and let sunlight hit the area for a few days to kill the disease spores.
If mildew or fungus problems arise, remove the mulch and allow the sun to shine on the soil for a couple days. This will kill the disease spores. Then mulch with fresh material.
Supplement the tree with more mulch each year, to accommodate the tree’s growth and size.
If you have fruit trees in your garden or on your homestead, you need to be mulching them. Mulching conserves water and feeds the soil, all at the same time!
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