Mulch! Who knew such an ugly word could be so beautiful. Have we stumbled upon the ugly duckling of farming? I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder but you have to admit, this lettuce, alfalfa co-mingling pictured above is pretty nice to look at.
What is this Mulch thing?
Mulch is a simple, multi-purpose farming technique used worldwide. Mulch is any material used to cover the soil around plants in order to retain moisture, keep soil nutrients from burning off, protect against soil erosion, and even to add fertility. We’ve played around with a bunch of materials and finally today we tried out alfalfa for several reasons. First, alfalfa is widespread and accessible to farmers here – a perfect local, low-cost solution! Second, as it breaks down, the alfalfa will replenish nutrients that the crops it surrounds are taking out. Plus, it just looks good.
Let’s get technical
Why am I sharing the marvels of mulch with you? Our demo farm lends itself to experimentation, knowing we’re not messing with a subsistence farmer’s food system. I’m excited to use this new blog theme to share some of the more technical farming practices we try out at the farm, such as different mulch materials. Even though we’re trying to adapt these practices to the region in which we work, a lot of them are applicable to other farming systems. Yep, that means you too can enjoy beautiful farming techniques.
Any suggestions for what we can experiment with next?