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Planting in sheet mulch

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I am about to plant in sheet mulched beds I built last fall. I plan on adding a deep layer of leaves on top of the beds we built up last fall, which have lost size over the winter, then a layer of manure, and I'm considering adding a layer of roots organics potting soil to top them off and planting seeds directly into the soil. I would estimate spending $40-60 to cover four raised beds in a roughly 15" by 30" space. Has anyone tried top dressing mulch beds with potting soil and planting seeds directly. Does anyone have any suggestions for vegetables that grow well, or not so well in mulch beds. Right now I'm growing Broccoli, Kale, and Beets indoors in containers to plant and I was thinking of planting some greens, and carrots as well. I've thought of building up some of the beds different from others to see how leaving the mulch exposed and planting directly into compost works. I'm also wondering what to do with the paths in the bed, right now they're covered with cardboard and a layer of straw. It would be nice to grow a ground cover into the paths but probably not this season. I'm also planning on growing some cover crops in a smaller bed to the North of the mulched bed, that gets a fair amount of shade from a large pine tree. I've been considering planting rye and hairy vetch soon and adding buckwheat when the weather warms. I've been looking at Seeds of Change and Turtle Tree for seed. Does anyone have any suggestions for planting cover crops in small beds, for weed suppression and improving soil quality? Another option would be planting shade tolerant veggies in the bed, but the soil is somewhat compacted. Thanks for any suggestions anyone has. Kevin Blue, Bozeman MT, Zone 4
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Location: North Central Michigan
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may I also suggest Bountiful Gardens, they have OP Heirloom seeds.

I'm a bit confused about the size of your beds..15 x 30 inches is quite small..I'm thinking maybe you meant 15 x 30 feet? This would be a good size start for a small garden..

I have gardens spread here and there over my property, but one I have in the north property is 45 x 40 feet, and it has a lot of paths in it made of lawn ..but I had used a plastic flexible edging around all the beds to keep the lawn out..I made the paths wide enough to drive the riding lawnmower on them which was nice..

In an old food forest garden I had, the beds were edged in lumber and i had aspen chips in the paths..they were wonderful ..and morel mushrooms grew in the paths..loves that.

IF I had the energy and money I would do that again..but I don't...we lost that garden area when we gave our son that section to build his house on so we had to start over old and broke.

as far as putting something on top..when I buy stuff I go to a place called Morgan Composting in mid Michigan (they deliver to some area stores, I get mine from Cadillac) they have an organically composted dairy manure called dairy doo and it is pretty decent to spread over your beds..I got a couple truckloads (around $100 each) and put over several of our gardens and in my greenhouse and fel it was a good choice.

If you can get composted manure from a local farm it would likely be free

I have also read that simple straw or hay when it rots and composts is just as valuable as if you have that available you might try that.

as far as planting..I would move aside the mulch, plant in the soil, and then move the mulch back when the plants are up and growing..if you try to plant on top of a thin soil on top of the mulch you may run into a water may dry out really fast
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This is a challenge I've had before while dealing with no-till, and heavily mulched beds.
I've used two methods.
1. I start everything in soil blocks and peat pots (I use CowPots now-->we sell them, link below if interested). Works great, but I've never tried it for carrots, only turnips and beets.
2. Instead of covering the entire bed in a layer of potting soil (which can get expensive), dig a small trench and fill in with potting soil. This trench will be your seed bed to direct seed into. I currently have raised beds in which I did this with carrots every 4 inches (still about 7 days from germination I can report back when/if they do). It was very easy to do. I typically do very poorly with carrots because I do not give the seeds enough constant moisture to germinate. However, last year this method worked well.

Hope this helps,
Jeremy Elwell
Elwell's Supplies-A Farmers' Market Supply Store
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