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Sheet mulching materials?

 
Alan Foster
Posts: 26
Location: St. Pete,FL
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Ok, so I think the best way to improve my soil without major machinery is sheet mulching. What I am curious about is the materials. What I have available in quantity for free are oak leaves and wood chips from the city recycle center. There are palm fronds, a variety of weeds and a small amount of pine needles. What can I do with these materials? What else will I need to add? Might be able to work out a deal with a local petshop to get the used bedding from the rodents. Mainly use pine and aspen.
This is mainly for a small front yard that has some grass, mainly weeds, and an oak tree. The soil is not terrible but could be bette. The back is a little grass, lots of pretty weeds and sand. Hard to do much with the dog pack rampaging thru so that will be raised beds and my aquaponic system.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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The palm fronds could be used as weed block, laying those down first. If you have enough to cover the whole area with some overlap of the fronds, that would be great. Then lay the other materials except the woodchips, saving them for the top layer. Just add a little water if it dries out, which probably won't happen in your location for several months. If I remember, you're in the Tampa area? You can plant right into this by clearing the mulch, poking a hole in the palm frond, planting and filling back in with the mulch. Great idea on your part to sheet mulch. It will conserve moisture and block weeds in addition to improving the soil. If you can cover the whole area with plants, they will grow and fill in the space and then they beome your weed block. If they are perennials, and fill in the space solid, you will have very few issues with weeds going forward. What are you going to plant?
 
Alan Foster
Posts: 26
Location: St. Pete,FL
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Not entirely sure yet. West facing small yard with a large oak so lot of partial to full shade.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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I see 2 pineapple guavas (aka feijoa), some thornless blackberries, bee balm, canna lily, coral bean, and day lily. You could grow mustard in winter for use as a mulch plant, and of course the greens too. It needs good sun, so it would do better if you have a deciduous oak (not live oak). Paw paws and cranberry hibiscus (true or false roselle) like shade too. The canna lily would provide mulch. The coral bean is a N-fixer, so chop & drop some of it from time to time also. All of these are shade tolerant. The blackberries produce well even in shade. Sounds like a fun project.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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it sure can't hurt to layer or combine organic products right on top of the soil.
 
Alan Foster
Posts: 26
Location: St. Pete,FL
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Sorry, live oak. Have a small blackberry bush and a cranberry hibiscus already. Growing a couple kinds of mint and a sweet potato so far along with a variety of native stuff(ie just blew in) and getting there very slowly. Not able to get much done at one time and now we have heavy rains. At least that is a good thing. Have several blueberries and a moringa to find room for and want to get a beautyberry bush for the front corner near neighbors property.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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It might be too shady to grow mustard, but the canna lily could serve as your mulch plant. With bee balm as your insectary, and coral bean as your N-fixer, you'd have a legitamate permaculture guild. Everything I've read on blueberry says they need a lot of sun, but Ben Walter, over in Deland, says they produce well in shade. Ben would know. I've run across several species of tree and shrub that do well with shade here, but would not further north, because our sun is so intense here in Florida. In fact, dogwood and redbud generally don't do well this far south unless they are shaded from the mid-day sun. That's not the case at all further north, even as close as north Florida. You might at least plant your blueberry in the sunniest spot you have, just to be on the safe side. Is your sweet potato doing well in shade? Mine are all in full sun and growing like they're on steroids because I sheet mulched that area before planting them. Full sun is supposed to be the call for them. You could try growing Maypop passion fruit on your oak, but it needs some sun too so it would have to be able to find some sunny spots on the south side of the tree. I just transplanted 8 Mimosa trees from the wild and the timing is perfect because all the rain and cool, cloudy weather will help them get established. I'm using them as one of my primary N-fixers, along with pigeon pea and coral bean. I enjoy working in the rain. It feels good. Good luck with your project.
 
Alan Foster
Posts: 26
Location: St. Pete,FL
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Is this what you mean by mimosa?
DSC_0058.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSC_0058.JPG]
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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Can't tell from the picture. The mimosa I've planted is Albizia julibrissin, aka silk tree. A lot of trees look very similar, and I've seen trees around here that look very similar but the flower is different, and they get a lot bigger, and the locals call them mimosas too.
 
Alan Foster
Posts: 26
Location: St. Pete,FL
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The ones here get to 40 foot, have yellow flowers and refuse to die. Cot a tree down and the stump will continue to sprout for years. Then we have the small sensitive plant also called mimosa. So confusing.
 
Anna Demb
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If you can get some seaweed, I recommend putting it on top of the woodchips. I did cardboard, woodchips, and seaweed, in that order, and had good results here in coastal maine. If you can put some manure under the cardboard (or palm fronds) all the better.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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The mimosas I planted have pink flowers and get to 15-20 ft around here. Very tropical looking. Back on sheet mulch, spanish moss is good too. Plentiful &free.
 
Alan Foster
Posts: 26
Location: St. Pete,FL
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That I have plenty of, just wasn't sure how easily it would break down.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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I second the seaweed. High in micronutrients. Since wood chips are the most difficult for windblown seeds to sprout in, I always put them on top.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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I cover spanish moss with wood chips so it can't photosynthesize. It dies and decomposes faster.
 
Ben Stallings
Posts: 156
Location: Emporia, KS
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Does giant ragweed (Ambrosia triffida) grow in your area? The first annual International Ragweed Day is coming up on the 23rd -- why not celebrate (and raise awareness) by pulling up all the ragweed you can find and adding it to your sheet mulch? In my experience it is hands-down the best material for sheet mulching, and if you pull it up before it blooms (the 23rd should be soon enough) you can spare hayfever sufferers from the pollen.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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Don't see any of that around here.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9459
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I swiped some Giant Ragweed from a neighbor's land one year, to sheet mulch in my garden.....But they put up new fencing lately so I think they don't want folks trespassing and taking their weeds (actually the fencing is probably to keep kayakers from trespassing down to the river)....
 
Alan Foster
Posts: 26
Location: St. Pete,FL
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Haven't seen any giant ragweed, but probably would not be a good thing for me to pick anyway.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
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