Mulching Organic Gardening Recycling

9 Advantages of Using Buckwheat Hulls as Mulch

Buckwheat hull mulch in a home garden. Photo: browfarmonlinestore.co.uk

By Fabian Deimos

Are you looking for a mulching solution for your garden? If so, there are many materials you can use as mulch. One such material is buckwheat hulls. That is, not the seeds themselves of the buckwheat plant (Fagopyrum esculentum), a cereal-like edible plant, but their covering. This outer shell is called a hull and is a residue of producing buckwheat for human food and animal fodder. So, the environment will thank you for recycling what could otherwise be a waste product!

Read on to know why you should opt for buckwheat hulls as your mulch of choice.

1.    Application

Buckwheat hulls are small and light weight, and easy to carry, no matter how distant the location of your garden. However, that isn’t the only reason why they make one of the best mulching solutions. Their small size also enables you to cover your garden entirely, leaving no spaces, ensuring your mulch is effective. 

2.    Compostable

When looking for a material to use as mulch, you want to settle on a solution that won’t negatively impact your garden, even in the long run. You don’t have to worry about sustainability when utilizing buckwheat hulls as mulch. That’s because they’re compostable, meaning the buckwheat will decompose over time. Once decomposed, it will add more nutrients to your soil, helping your plants grow healthily. Therefore, you only need to add more buckwheat hulls to replace those that decomposed over time.

3.    Ease of Availability

Buckwheat hulls pouring out of a green pillow.
Buckwheat hulls are commonly used as filler for pillows. Photo: natalt, depositphotos

Buckwheat hulls are a reusable material and serve various purposes. These days, they’re especially popular for use as a filling material for pillows and mattresses. If you utilize buckwheat fillings for your pillow or bean bags, though, you’ll need to replace them over time to give you greater comfort. Instead of throwing these fillings away, you can take the used hulls to your garden and use them as mulch. This reduces your need to purchase buckwheat hulls solely for your garden, reducing your expenses in the long run. Alternatively, if you use millet hulls for pillows, you can also use these instead of buckwheat hulls, as they function the same way.

4.    Low Evaporation Rate

Close up of buckwheat hulls showing them opening like a clam.
Buckwheat hulls look like little brown clam shells. Photo: Photo: Ratikova, depositphotos

Buckwheat hulls are shell-shaped, a form which more or less acts as a cover. The conical shape reduces the exposure of your soil to harsh weather conditions, such as the sun. This reduces the evaporation rate, ensuring your soil retains as much moisture as possible.

5.    Non-Absorbent

The material that composes buckwheat hulls isn’t very absorbent. Thus, it won’t soak up all your rainwater or precious irrigation water. It does absorb some water, but only a small percentage. With fewer absorptive properties, it won’t take water away from your soil and garden. This leaves more water for your garden: the desired goal.

Also, the non-absorbent aspect of buckwheat hulls enables them to last longer. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about constantly replacing your mulch, which might become expensive in the long run. Being non-absorbent, buckwheat hulls won’t become waterlogged over time and come to compact the soil in your garden. The additional weight on your garden of other mulches when they are water-soaked does reduce aeration, essential to the growth of your plants. But again, poor aeration is not a problem with buckwheat mulch.

6.    Inhibits Weed Growth

Weeds are just plants growing where you don’t want them to grow . . . but you really don’t want many of those we commonly call weeds in your garden! Weeds steal nutrients from your garden, reducing the minerals available to your plants, take their water, and shade them out, thus inhibiting your plants’ growth. With weeds in your garden, you need to double your efforts to help your plants grow and that becomes tiring and expensive. 

Buckwheat hulls eliminate this concern when you utilize them as mulch. Thanks to the shell-like structure of buckwheat, they’ll prevent any weed seeds that fall to the ground from receiving sunlight and carbon dioxide. This inhibits or prevents their growth and eventually leads to their death. With buckwheat hulls, you can entirely focus is on your plants’ well-being by ensuring they get all the right nutrients. Also, you won’t need to keep buying herbicides to get rid of weeds.

Garden using buckwheat hull mulch.
A buckwheat hull mulch can help prevent erosion. Photo farm-it.desigusxpro.com

7.    Prevents Erosion

Soil erosion can be one of the detrimental aspects of growing plants in your garden. Once the topsoil is stripped away, your plants will have nothing to grow in. That is why a mulching solution to reduce soil erosion can be so helpful. 

One of the causes of soil erosion is rain. Raindrops splash on the ground with surprising force and displace the soil. However, a covering of hulls will prevent direct contact between raindrops and the soil. Therefore, no displacement occurs. That’s why a light mulch helps to hold your soil in place. Also, you don’t have to worry about your garden soil being swept away in case of a heavy downpour. Unmulched, that could lead to disastrous run-off, but even torrents of rain will just sink into and flow through buckwheat hulls, then sink into the soil, reducing the amount of soil swept away or even preventing the whole process entirely. 

Besides water erosion, wind erosion is another aspect you need to be wary of. It will also sweep away your garden soil. Buckwheat hull mulch may be light, but it can reduce this problem too. All you need to do is keep the hulls slightly moist and they will cling to each other. Plus, that bit of moisture will make them just a little heavier . . . enough to prevent them from being carried away by strong winds under most circumstances.

8.    Less Infestation

Some available mulching solutions, such as wood chips, are susceptible to attacks by insects and other pests. Therefore, you have to invest in pesticides and other chemicals to prevent such an attack on your growing plants. 

However, using buckwheat hulls as your mulching solution reduces and possibly eliminates these infestations. This property is attributed to the composition of buckwheat hulls, which simply aren’t a food source to any plant-inhibiting animals, like slugs and snails. As stated earlier, you won’t have to use chemicals in your garden, which in return increases the quality of your plants.

Pile of buckwheat hulls.
Buckwheat hull mulch helps insulate the soil against cold winds. Photo: Ratikova, depositphotos

9.    Provide Insulation

With the varying seasons of the year, you must expect to have both cold and warm temperatures. Your plants have minimal chances of survival if the temperatures are too cold. This can be a worrying factor for you as a gardener. However, you can worry less about low temperatures when you use a buckwheat hull mulch.  

As previously stated, buckwheat hulls are shell-shaped and small-sized. The shell shape slows the penetration of cold air into your garden’s soil. Plus, their small nature allows you to spread them out evenly in your garden, again slowing air movement. And the natural heat of the soil is likewise held in place when the soil is covered in mulch: much less is lost to the atmosphere. Mulching with buckwheat hulls will maintain the warmth in your soil in cold weather, providing insulation, and prevent any damaging rapid temperature changes to your plants’ roots. Therefore, you won’t need to worry as much about your plants suffering from extreme cold. 

Conclusion

This article has covered many ways in which you can benefit by using buckwheat hulls as your mulching solution. With this newfound knowledge, you might want to try buckwheat hulls out yourself to see the benefits in your garden first-hand. However, the decision remains yours to make. Do consider using it to weigh your options with other mulching methods before making a decision.

About the Author

Fabian Deimos is a freelance writer and content editor. He loves writing helpful, inspirational, and motivational blog posts. Fabian loves reading books and watching movies in his free time.

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

16 comments on “9 Advantages of Using Buckwheat Hulls as Mulch

  1. Buckwheat hulls are usually available at any garden center in the Finger Lakes area of New York, probably because Birkett Mills is in the area, one of the oldest and largest buckwheat mills, and they sell the hulls as Mul-Tex brand, I think roughly $12 US for 25 lbs. We used them and generally liked them, and they last a couple seasons, unlike grass/leaves, but they are so light, a really windy day can redistribute them from beds to lawns pretty quickly.

  2. Randy Evans

    Interesting article, but these cost 10 times as much as wood chip mulch! Another good solution for garden mulch is grass clippings. They are free and 100% biodegradable.

  3. Buckwheat hulls & rice hulls can be shipped here, but are not available locally.
    Rice hulls are cheaper $22.00 for fifty pounds, buckwheat hulls are $12.50 for 25 pounds X 2 =$25.00 for fifty pounds.
    Both have a delivery fee. Still a very good article.

    • Marietta

      Please name your supplier, I presume you can find it on the internet.

  4. Régis Vaillancourt

    Where can I buy somein the Ottawa area? I got some years ago and it is the best mulch you can use.

  5. Any search for buckwheat hull suppliers (in Nova Scotia) turns up sources of hulls for pillows, and they’re pretty pricey if you’re looking to mulch a large garden. One place wanted $165 for a 35-lb bag of (organic) hulls.

  6. Where can buckwheat hulls be purchased in Toronto, Ontario area?

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