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sunken bed sheet mulching

 
Posts: 20
Location: Dolan Springs, AZ (Zone 9a)
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I'm in the arid desert and want to store water with earthworks. The soil is sandy and dry, so I wanted to sheet mulch to build soil.
I was wondering, even though sheet mulching is so you dont have to dig, I was thinking that sheet mulching would work to store (absorb) water like basins and build soil at the same time.
Is it worth it to dig a foot or two for a sunken sheet mulched bed?

Also for sheet mulching, cardboard-manure-straw..that works?  can I use alfalfa hay instead of strawbales? I have free access to manure, but not straw

thanks!
 
master pollinator
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I have a problem with the tradewinds plus tropical sun drying out my soil. So instead of hugelkultur above ground, I did mine in deep pits. It's the same as sheet layering, but the bottom layer , in my case, is wood. After the wood placed on the bottom of the pit, I then layered all sorts of organic material until the pit was overfilled. I don't have access to straw either, so I used what I could get......weeds, leaves, waste fruits, garden waste, kitchen waste, etc.

Does it work? You betcha!! The filled pits hold moisture far better than the surrounding soil. Why not give it a try. It's fun to experiment and learn.
 
pollinator
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the title of this post had me intrigued... I thought i was going to be about using bed sheets as mulch. Still I am in a bit of a desert climate myself and I am always interested in other's success stories. I will be furthering my approach to making things grow in the spring and eventually will be implementing some sunken bed methods as well. Best of luck.
 
Eric Nar
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Su Ba wrote:I have a problem with the tradewinds plus tropical sun drying out my soil. So instead of hugelkultur above ground, I did mine in deep pits. It's the same as sheet layering, but the bottom layer , in my case, is wood. After the wood placed on the bottom of the pit, I then layered all sorts of organic material until the pit was overfilled. I don't have access to straw either, so I used what I could get......weeds, leaves, waste fruits, garden waste, kitchen waste, etc.

Does it work? You betcha!! The filled pits hold moisture far better than the surrounding soil. Why not give it a try. It's fun to experiment and learn.



Thanks! I needed to hear some sort of confirmation to boost my confidence :) Its my first run with this stuff and want to start in the right direction
 
pollinator
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My process is similar to Su Ba's. I like to dig down 2+ feet & put a layer of wood on the bottom and then make layers out of whatever I have on hand (usually rabbit manure, weeds, leaves, junk mail, etc) until it's slightly above ground level.
In my experience & climate the wood seems to be the key component to holding moisture. In the sunken beds where I've just used cardboard and/or paper, instead of wood, I found it, either, broke down too fast to help for the whole growing season, or it didn't hold enough moisture to meet the water needs of the plants. Even if I don't have logs/limbs available, I still gather sticks, bark, and/or wood chips to give it a woody base. I'll also use small sticks/bark/chips as one or two additional layers of the bed  
Once it starts to break down, it settles back to ground level or a little lower. If it sinks too much I just add some soil to the top to bring the surface level back up.
 
Eric Nar
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Location: Dolan Springs, AZ (Zone 9a)
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Aaron Tusmith wrote:the title of this post had me intrigued... I thought i was going to be about using bed sheets as mulch. Still I am in a bit of a desert climate myself and I am always interested in other's success stories. I will be furthering my approach to making things grow in the spring and eventually will be implementing some sunken bed methods as well. Best of luck.



great to hear! Im on my first year on raw land and just am trying to build soil and get started. Ill keep ya updated
 
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Eric Nar wrote:I'm in the arid desert and want to store water with earthworks. The soil is sandy and dry, so I wanted to sheet mulch to build soil.
I was wondering, even though sheet mulching is so you dont have to dig, I was thinking that sheet mulching would work to store (absorb) water like basins and build soil at the same time.
Is it worth it to dig a foot or two for a sunken sheet mulched bed?

Also for sheet mulching, cardboard-manure-straw..that works?  can I use alfalfa hay instead of strawbales? I have free access to manure, but not straw

thanks!



Im in Florida were the soil is very similar, sandy as heck with no organic matter.

For mulching I would definitely recommend woodchips. That's what many people do around here and it helps the soil a lot. The finer particles sift down into the soil and the larger pieces break down on top and help with water retention. Woodchips/mulching are free around here too you just have to go pick it up

Also check out this thread about sheet mulching https://permies.com/t/56644/Horrors-sheet-mulching


 
Eric Nar
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Location: Dolan Springs, AZ (Zone 9a)
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Im in Florida were the soil is very similar, sandy as heck with no organic matter.

For mulching I would definitely recommend woodchips. That's what many people do around here and it helps the soil a lot. The finer particles sift down into the soil and the larger pieces break down on top and help with water retention. Woodchips/mulching are free around here too you just have to go pick it up

Also check out this thread about sheet mulching https://permies.com/t/56644/Horrors-sheet-mulching



Thanks for that. I just found a source for woodchips. I thought I heard of horror stories about using woodchips, so I went looking. It seems as though the problems people face (mostly slugs) with sheetmulching comes from too wet?  Im not sure if that's right, but Im in a dry place (AZ desert); and it seems like yea a lot of people in AZ are using woodchips. I was going to grow organic mulch, are woodchips better?
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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