Vegetable Garden Mulch
Creating the Perfect Soil

General benefits of mulch

There are numerous types (mulch types) of vegetable garden mulch that are beneficial.  Putting out mulch has the following benefits:

  • Mulch serves as a physical barrier against ultraviolet light which could otherwise kill microbes in the soil.
  • Mulch helps to keep the soil from drying out.
  • Mulch can help to discourage weeds from growing.
  • Mulch provides the soil with organic matter, which soil microorganisms are dependent on for food.
  • As mulch is broken down, it provides nutrients to the plant.
  • Mulch lignin are converted into short-lived humus, which stays in the soil for 1 to 3 years and structures the soil in tiny clumps, helping the soil to breathe and store water.

With all these benefits, there is a vegetable garden mulch that does even more.  Ramial chipped wood mulch, the mulch made by chipping up small green branches and twigs, is hugely beneficial to the garden.  The best news is tree trimming companies usually have to pay for dumping their wood chips in a landfill and would probably deliver a load or two to you for free!  When they delivered mine, the truck was small enough to maneuver to the back of my driveway by my backyard gate.

Special benefits of RCW mulch

What makes Ramial Chipped Wood (RCW) the perfect vegetable garden mulch?

  • Small branches and twigs contain 75% of the nutrients of a tree and are a well-rounded source of nutrients for the soil.
  • RCW is excellent for preventing weeds, while still allowing air down to the soil.
  • A 4-inch covering of RCW helps retain moisture and restore softness to soils better than other mulches.
  • Fungi convert RCW lignin into long-lived, stable humus that can stay in the soil for hundreds of years.

Lignin and stable humus

Lignin is a sugar structure that gives trees and plants their natural rigidity.  Lignin in larger branches is very hard for fungi and bacteria to break down. However, the lignin in small branches and twigs is less mature and can be broken down by a few species of protozoa and bacteria, and especially by the Basidiomycetic group of fungi.  These fungi build carbon into polysaccharides (complex carbohydrates), which contribute to the soil’s humus content.  Some of these polysaccharides are incorporated into stable humus, which utilize soil water to “glue together” fine soil particles, building a crumbly, and friable structure necessary to good soil.

So little is known about fungi, and in the past their value as decomposers of dead wood has been overlooked.  However, when Basidiomycete fungi and RCW from hardwood trees or bushes unite to produce stable humus, it creates a most fertile soil.

This Shelf Fungus is especially good at breaking down wood lignins

Basidiomycetes contain enzymes that can break down lignin in wood.  Only lignin from hardwood (climactic deciduous) trees and bushes can be transformed into stable humus. Shelf fungi, as seen in the picture, are the most efficient at producing stable humus.

Animal manures, (manure compost) green manures (green manure page) and composts (compost pile basics) are converted into short-lived humus, which is a food source for bacteria.  These bacteria become dormant in the winter.  However, Basidiomycetic fungi that break down ramial chipped wood continue their work in the winter. Mushrooms, puffballs, shell fungi, and stinkhorns are just a few of the 30,000 species of Basidiomycetic fungi.  Like mushrooms, they all form large often dome-like structures that they use for reproduction and releasing of spores into the air.

For years now I have given my lawn and garden a boost by applying liquid humic acid, mixed with ocean trace minerals. These humic acids jump start the soil building process by gluing together fine soil particles, building a crumbly friable soil structure, while the ocean trace minerals supply an incredible buffet of micronutrients which have long since leached out of our soils.

The best of both worlds

Most farms and gardens today use biodynamic practices that feed soil bacteria with organic matter, creating short-lived humus.  What if we were to add pedogenesis (forming stable humus to build the soil) to the equation?  It would give us the BEST way to produce food worldwide while preserving soil fertility and ecosystem diversity.  Yes, simply by adding traditional organic matter to the soil to feed bacteria, and then adding ramial chipped wood to feed the fungi, we create an incredible soil.

This is what I do in my garden.  I have compost piles where bacteria break down leaves, garden residue, grass, landscape trimmings, and kitchen scraps.  Each spring I spread this compost over my ramial chipped wood.  The rains then carry it down to the soil.  My RCW grows fungi which builds stable humus, and my compost supplies short-life humus.

With all of this fertility, the only thing that is lacking is a good source of some important trace minerals, Many of the trace minerals have been washed from our soils down to the ocean.  Because of this, neither compost nor ramial chipped wood contain them.  Why not recycle these minerals back from the ocean to our soils?  The best product I have found for this is concentrated liquid sea minerals.

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RCW Index

 1. Ramial Chipped Wood

 2. RCW solves gardening
 3. RCW helps create
     the perfect soil
 4. RCW for bushes, trees
 5. RCW creates a perfect
     growing environment
 6. Growing soil with RCW
     by incorporating in soil
 7. Getting free RCW, and
     which trees work best
 8. Applying RCW


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