Live – Cover / Soil Covering

Covering soil is done with as large variety of material as possible. Break it up and cover bare soil.

Using herbs (including ones from the border) as part of the cover will greatly benefit the soil and the life within while preventing pests and disease.

Some advantages of cover;

Keeps soil protected from direct sunlight,

Provides shade,

Keeps soil protected from rain,

Keeps soil protected from wind,

Collects dew,

Acts as a filter for plants,

Preserves moisture,

Reduces the need for watering massively,

Creates a good home for roots, earthworms, and lots of other creatures,

Prevents weeds and makes removing them far easier,

Nutrients are stored, preserved and released properly to plants – roots have an abundant supply and apportion nutrients and water to the receiving plant with ease,

Roots are in a happy environment, nearly always moist but never waterlogged.

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Tomato plants with mixture of grass cuttings and other material as cover, with hemp cuttings on top.

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Thorny material (Rose prunings) chopped up ready to be used where awkward ‘weeds’ grow.

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Woodchip Pictures

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Aim to keep soil that does not have seedlings/plants growing in it, covered at all times. Soil which is rooted with roots and shaded by leaves produces proper plants in time. Then these plants will eventually become food for the soil and the live-cycle continues. always try to mix material, for example putting down pure grass cuttings without mixing them with other material will not be as beneficial.

The covering provides food for earthworms and all other soil life, while also protecting soil from damage, nutrient leaching, water leaching, capping from the sun etc. Covering is not only the best way to achieve a healthy soil, but also the best method for preserving soil. (NOTE: If seedlings were not directly sown in covering, it is not usually used until the seedlings are about hand height, so the covering doesn’t cover the seedlings. [Wind, birds etc move the covering about]).

Use plenty of medicinal Herbs, leaves of harvested vegetables / Herbs, wild flowers, flowers which have finished (seeds in flower heads/fruit pods are not a problem), lawn and grass cuttings and hedge clippings are all okay.
Wood chippings are one of the best coverings, especially under bushes and trees where they can remain as they are. Woodchip is not so practical for a vegetable type of area because they need to be added in autumn and removed in spring as seedlings will struggle to germinate.

Chopping the material up helps to keep tidiness and order. Also, woody material can be chopped up if the equipment is available. When chopped into small fine pieces it is ideal for cover and properties within the cells of wood prevent weeds from germinating and growing. Using woody material, that is not shredded, takes a long time to break down and so is un-practical for cover.

Thorny material is the best at getting rid of awkward “weeds” like bindweed.

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