Mulching – The Chop and Drop
When caring for your garden you may find yourself looking for gardening supplies or fertilizers that are good for balanced plant growth. Like humans, plants also have nutrition needs that when fulfilled will allow them to grow beautifully. Plants need water, sunlight and air, as well as mineral nutrients in order to grow. The minerals plant use are nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, boron, calcium, that are provided by fertilizers and/or mulch.
The mulch that is made of fresh plants is a good source of mineral and other nutrients for the plant and soil. You can find bags of mulch you can buy in your area, but if you prefer natural organic mulch that comes from your own garden and it is cheap and easy to make, then you are in luck because today we talk about the chop and drop mulching technique.
What is mulch and what are its benefits?
Mulches are inorganic or organic materials that are used to cover the soil and that have great benefits for the soil and the plants from your backyard.
Mulching is one of the ways to care for your garden. Beside the nutritive properties, it helps keep the weeds from growing, seals moist of the soil under the plant preventing the ground to be exposed to high temperatures in summer or low temperatures in winter, or dehydration. It helps the plants thrive providing nutrients for the soil earthworms and other micro-organisms that live in your garden.
What is the chop and drop technique?
Among other mulching techniques, chop and drop is a really cheap and easy to do and consists of chopping the leaves off of a plant that is good for mulching, and leaving them to fall on the ground. That’s all you need to do, very simple, right? It’s probably the most simple thing you will ever do in for your garden. No need to pick up the leaves, no need to throw them away, jut let them be on the soil.
Chop and drop makes mulching a lot easier. It provides ground cover, prevents weed growth and is a good natural fertilizer. This method is a great way to feed your garden and help it stay healthy and resistant to certain diseases. Mulching can minimize the need to water your garden depending on the season and the plant.
The organic mulch is best to use if you are looking to improve the fertility and the quality of the soil. This type of mulch can consist of the leaves or other plants that grow in your garden that you cut off and let fall on the ground. The advantage is that the freshly cut leaves will break down and become part of the soil enhancing its properties.
What are the best plants in your garden to chop and drop?
Pruning most of the plants in the garden won’t cause harm, but you need to be wary of some plants which may be less beneficial when mulching than other plants.
So what are the best choppable herbs for mulching?
You need to have some good plants for this method. The plants that are strong, have big leaves, stems, are not weak or in danger to wilt if you cut off some leaves, make good candidates. Even grass is good for mulching especially when you mow it. For example, comfrey is good because it grows fast, can be chopped multiple times in the growing season, the leaves decompose fast and provide great nutrition for the soil. Other plants are clover, nettles which are rich in silica and other minerals. Rhubarb is also excellent because of its large leaves and is great for mulching. Mint is superb not only because it grows very fast, it contains a wide variety of nutrients, but it also extend its roots in the garden and you can uproot it, cut it and spread it over the soil in the garden.
Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plant growth and can be found in several plants like the woody or herbaceous plants. Examples of great nitrogen fixers are Siberian pea trees, autumn olive, astragalus, baptisia, senna, acacia, vetches, legumes, thistles, dandelion, and some edible flowers like sunflower, primrose, borage, and yarrow. They are excellent growth providers for your garden when you chop and drop.
Now some plants have negative effects and should not be used for mulching. Some examples of these are black walnut from bark to leaves, sugar maple, hackberry, American sycamore, eucalyptus.
They contain allelopathic substances that have a herbicide effect and have the property to eliminate other surrounding plants or prevent them from growing. The purpose of the chop and drop technique is to feed the soil and the plants, and not to poison them.
The chopped and dropped leaves make a good mulch for your garden. Next time you maintain the plants in the garden by trimming them, let the leaves fall on the ground and don’t put them away. It’s not a lazy thing to do. As we saw before, it’s actually a smart thing to do, since mulching will improve the quality of the soil and will make it support your garden nutrient and health needs. And you don’t have to pay anything.