Winter Mulching of Plants
Mulching is actually a shield for protecting the plant from the harsh environmental effects. Mulching act as a blanket that protects the plant roots from getting freeze. It may also protect the soil from temperature fluctuations which is more dangerous. This is because the nights will be very freezing and when sun comes there will be a thawing effect and this triggers the plant to produce new growth. Again in night the freezing temperature will kill the plant. Hence mulching is ideal to keep the soil temperature almost even.
Mulching may also help you to retain the soil moisture. In the beginning of winter mulching protects the soil from freezing deeply and hence the plant can absorb more water. Finally when the soil freezes completely there will be more moisture in the soil and plant. Mulching plays a major role in inhibiting the germination of the seeds of annual weeds. More over mulching may also add nutrients to the soil and thus enrich the soil condition.
Different Types of Mulches
For mulching your plant you can use chopped leaves, compost, pine needles, pine bark, straw, grass clippings, wood dust, corn cobs, wood chips and even pebbles can be used. If you are using pine needles then the acidity of your soil may increase slightly. Similarly the wood chips may take up more nitrogen while getting decomposed and hence composted wood chips are found to be the best. If you use weedy hay then you will get more weeds in the next season and hence straw that is free of weeds are ideal. Stones or pebbles will work out better in places where there is no need for soil tilling. While compost, chopped leaves, pine dust etc can be mixed with the soil in spring season and they will enrich your soil.
The mulch layer becomes thinner when the mulch material becomes denser. If you are using straw then you can heap straw around the plant with out covering the plant top. If the mulch material is bark then spread it at a depth of four inches. If fine compost is used for mulching then spread it in a thin layer.
When spring comes remove or incorporate these mulches in the soil. Mulching improves your soil texture and helps the plant to grow healthy.