Put Value Back into Your Soil

A lot of emphases has been placed on “cleaning the land” by taking organic materials away to improve fire safety. So far, so good. But to really improve your land – whether in woodlands, domestic gardens or orchards – you also need to put organic material back to feed and protect the soil.

In our garden and orchard, we use a combination of sheet mulching and woodchip mulch. And it works great! The cardboard sits on top of weeded, manured soil and a 7-10 cm layer of woodchip lies on the surface. This method is used in gardens and permaculture plots throughout the world, and you’ll find some links below to articles and YouTube videos you can explore.

Horta 1
  • A blanket of wood-chip/mulch on your land will help prevent soil erosion.
  • The surface temperature of your soil can exceed 55° c in summer. The blanket acts as an insulator and can cool your soil temperature by as much as 25°c. 
  • It lowers the evaporation rate of the soil moisture. Following the end of the rainy season, we checked the soil below our wood chip blanket and after 13 days found it was still quite wet.
  • Healthier soil and more productive plants.
  • During the lengthy summer dry periods we are only using about 40% of the water we needed before we mulched.
Horta 2
  • The wood-chip / mulch blanket biodegrades into excellent, rich soil.
  • Provides slow-release organic feeding for years.
  • Encourages earthworms which aerate and fertilise your soil.
  • Also encourage mycorrizal fungi that make trees healthier.
  • Offers a good environment for growing edible mushrooms.
  • It also helps to suppress weed growth. Which is a welcome time and labour saving.

Learn More – Some Useful Links

A report by Deutsche Welle. Ancient ecosystems were razed to the ground.
Portugal’s 700-year-old Pinhal de Leiria forest was destroyed during the wildfires that swept across Europe in the summer of 2018. A staggering 80 percent of the forest – home to all manner of bugs, birds and mammals – was destroyed. Despite help from local volunteers, it could take as long as half a century for the soil to regenerate. https://www.dw.com/en/forests-can-take-decades-to-recover-from-fire/g-47682410/ 

Here’s an excellent site that dispels many of the myths and misconceptions about using wood chip. Shows how the nitrogen levels improve in your soil – and much more. https://learningandyearning.com/wood-chips/

Pros and Cons of landscape fabric vs. cardboard for sheet mulching under chips:

Dispels many myths and misconceptions about using woodchips and how nitrogen levels improve soil: