Benefits of Hemp for Mulch
There are a number of mulching products on the market today. What makes Woven Earth’s hemp mulch matting different? Let’s take a look at a few of the areas where hemp mulch stands apart.
1. Hemp is easy to grow
From a farming perspective, hemp is very easy to grow. It requires no chemical pesticides, as there are very few pests that covet it. Hemp also requires no synthetic fertilizer; it uses only natural fertilizers.
A typical hemp growing cycle is 4 months, similar to straw. Contrast that with wood mulch or coco mulch, which require multiple months (or years) to grow. Of course, recycled wood mulch is a good alternative, but it, too, has potential issues, such as the potential for foreign objects (nails, screws, etc), and the fact that the wood may not be of a consistent type.
2. Hemp is easy to work with
Although the time it takes to grow hemp is similar to straw, they are different to work with. Straw easily blows away in strong wind, and can wash away during a heavy rain. This is why when used for erosion control, straw is bunched up and held together with a synthetic scrim (net). As a nonwoven mat, hemp mulch will not blow away in a strong wind, as long as it is anchored down. And because it is in a mat, it will not wash down a hill or clog a drain while anchored down.
Straw can contain dust, pollen, weed seeds, which may cause allergic reactions to those working with it. Hemp fiber is hypoallergenic. While there is dust on raw hemp fiber, it has long been filtered out by the time the hemp is manufactured into nonwoven matting. There have been no known reports of any allergic reaction to hemp fiber.
3. Hemp is a mulching monster
Because hemp absorbs water incredibly well, it keeps soil moist, and in turn, continues to keep your plants properly hydrated. Hemp is naturally pH balanced, so it requires no additives to the soil (unless your plants require it). Hemp grown to maximize fiber is planted very dense. This results in tightly packed, straight stalks, and weeds can’t compete. Because of this, retted and processed, hemp fiber does not contain any seeds or weeds.
As hemp retts (decomposes enough to allow the fibers to loosen), its lignin content decreases (lignin holds the fibers together; as it decomposes the lignin leaves voids). This allows the product to decompose faster than ‘unretted’ fiber. When laid down, these voids love to fill with water. This is partly why hemp has incredible water uptake.
This combination of clean, strong, absorbent fiber makes a great base for a natural, biodegradable mulch.
Although it’s been used for thousands of years to make rope, cloth, and canvass, hemp is relatively new to the US. Before the second World War it was grown here, and during the war its value exploded. After it effectively disappeared from the US, it continued to be grown throughout the world, as it does today. It’s been just recently that Americans in a number of industries are “rediscovering” hemp’s benefits, and the garden and landscape industry is no different.