The use of mulching sheets is a technique of organic agriculture that tries to imitate natural forests’ processes. This agricultural process follows no-dig gardening or non-cultivation method. This technique is used to produce healthy and prolific ecosystems that require low maintenance.
The technique of using sheet mulching involves the following steps:
- The selected area is flattened through trimming or chopping down of existing vegetation.
- The soil is examined and if required, its pH (measure of acidity or basicity) or mineral amendments is adjusted.
- The soil is soaked in water to assist the natural process of decomposition.
- The soil is covered by an organic weed barrier (a thin layer of slow decomposing material). This is done to restrain the weeds by blocking out sunlight. As weeds decay quickly under the barrier, they become nutrients for the soil and enhance the stability of the growing medium.
- A layer of around 10 cm thick, rich in nutrients and weed-free soil is added on top of the weed barrier to create a soil horizon.
- A layer of around 15 cm thick woody, weed-free and leafy matter is added to imitate the forest floor. The soil is now all set to receive plant seeds.
There are several advantages of using sheet mulching in organic agriculture. They are as follows:
- Improvement of plant health, vigour and productivity
- Enhancement of soil structure
- Retention of nutrients and water in soil
- Prevention of soil erosion
- Suppression of weed growth
- Avoidance of dangerous pesticides and herbicides
- Reduction of maintenance cost