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Tilling and What Cardboard?

 
pollinator
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Location: France
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I have an area of 250m2 / 300yd2 of grass, clover and plantains that I intend to turn into a food garden (evolving into a forest garden over the years to come). I have had success in the past with laying down cardboard, putting manure on top and 3 months later turning it all in but that was before I knew of Emilia Hazelip and all the soil microbes, and it was for just flowerbeds. Now I'm hoping that this same method will work for us over the winter on the food garden but not doing the tilling neither before nor after. So questions...

Will it work OK to not rotavate it all together yet still be able to plant for this summer - salad crops, peas, beans (not roots because the manure was fresh cow manure/straw mix in Oct - we have another established area for food growing Hazelip style)

On the cardboard issue - is it OK to use any cardboard? I ask because the children have been given loads of toys in 'attractive' cardboard toy packaging and there's sheets and sheets of that stuff. I'd rather use it here than take it to the tip but is it toxic, too shiny? Will it harm our precious earth?

Last question - what material do you guys use a path material? We have hens free-ranging (scratching) everywhere - I can protect the crops but obviously not the paths (otherwise we couldn't use them either!)
 
master pollinator
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I don't think you need to till it. I plant on top of sheet mulch by putting a couple inches of soil over the top, either a solid layer of soil or just in pockets for more widely spaced plants. You'll want to make sure the mulch is moist all the way through to the soil before you plant in it.
 
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