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How Mulch Is Improving Global Air Quality

Mulching – it’s the kind of thing anyone who can do it should be doing. And it’s so easy, you don’t need the help of a wholesale plant nursery to get started.

Think about it – a 100% free and easy way to reduce water consumption, keep weeds out of the equation, deter pests and boost soil health, all at the same time.  You can always buy what you need from a wholesale plant nursery, but there’s really no need to.

The fact that mulch is technically a waste product intensifies its value enormously. You’d be hard-pressed to find a wholesale plant nursery anywhere that doesn’t use and recommend the stuff. But even with all these well-known and documented benefits, it seems there are still certain advantages to mulching that we are only just beginning to discover.

For example – what if we were to tell you that mulch has been scientifically proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

A Breath of Fresh Air

Chances are this won’t come as a big surprise right now. Not given the way the article’s title already gave the game away. In any case, a team of researchers from the University of British Columbia carried out a project on a number of vineyards and orchards. When taking into account the use of mulch and subsequent emissions, they discovered that agricultural mulching can lead to a reduction in nitrous oxide emissions by as much as 28%.

“In addition to saving water, improving soil, combatting pests and stopping weeds, wood mulch actually reduces the release of a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide,” says Craig Nichol, senior instructor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

“Provided you are not driving great distances to obtain the mulch, it would appear that mulch could be a powerful tool in helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly if used in these agricultural systems.”

Make Your Own

Just to pick up on that specific point – there’s absolutely no need to travel any distance whatsoever to obtain mulch. Given the way in which it is so easy (and free) to make it at home, you needn’t pay your local wholesale plant nursery a penny.

The study was carried out over the course of two years and focused on nitrous oxide emissions from soil, which are known to account for more than 50% of all the agricultural emissions that exacerbate global warming. The research team found that where wood mulch had been used to cover the ground in orchards and vineyards, soil nitrates also plummeted by as much as 74%. This is equally significant, given the way in which nitrates in the soil can make their way into groundwater and subsequently pose a threat to surrounding wildlife and public health in general.

While the study was of course carried out to investigate the potential benefits of mulching on the widest possible scale, it nonetheless brought to light evidence that mulching to any extent can only be a good thing. Even if you only have a relatively small garden, just a little bit of mulch here and there will still make a difference in terms of nitrous oxide emissions. Better yet, if each and every homeowner with a garden started mulching even at a modest level, we’d be looking at millions of square miles of mulch all over the place doing their thing for the environment.

Making Mulch

If all of the above has you convinced, the next question on your mind is probably that of how you can get started making your own mulch. The good news being that it really couldn’t be easier. You’ll need just a few bits and pieces to get started, along with the necessary patience to give it time to get to work.

Making the stuff couldn’t be easier – simply take your woodchips, piled leaves and whatnot and give them sufficient time to dry. Chop or shred them thoroughly and bring them all together in a pile.

Next, throw them in a compost bin and after each 12-inch layer of leaves, throw in a handful of urea, ammonium nitrate, bone meal, or a layer of grass clippings for nitrogen delivery. The leaves need to then be moistened, but not saturated, before being left to do their thing.

If you get started now, you’ll be looking at a quality pile of mulch you can put to use at the beginning of next spring. Then again, you could head to your local wholesale plant nursery and buy some if you can’t wait this long!

 

 

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