so, i live in a rental, so I have a very limited amount of stuff I can do permanently around the house. However I have a pretty hip landlord, so I got him to agree (relatively easily) to let me sheet mulch a section of clay that his grass seed never took. The place is pretty new so it was planted in the last 2 years.
I laid a layer of newspaper and over some compost. I then mulched it with grass clippings and wet leaves. and dressed all that with some top soil that some crazy person threw into the community compost bin here in town.
Felling rather ambitious, I then went down the road to the nieghbors where we have been using their garden. I sheet mulched the whole thing, which is most of a backyard. I got the cardboard from the community recycle bins, and the mulch from the community grass and leaf dump off spot. Got to educate a lot of people along the way about why I was taking their garbage out of the bin and putting it in my truck. It was amazing how many people had no idea that you needed to rebuild the soil for it to produce naturally. All the same, I felt like a king in his castle looking at my gardens once they were done.
This leads me to ask.
How many of you have gone through this process, and how were the results?
Sheet mulched my front yard to kill off kikuyu and couch grass. Worked really well, especially where I used cardboard. Main thing I did different to you though, I fed (urine) and watered all the weeds to make them juicy and fat and then I slashed them down, covered with a dressing of manure before laying out the cardboard, followed by a layer of straw and wood chip. Over the course of one season it all rotted up (still took a couple years of keeping an eye out for any of the left over running grass), worm activity underneath was amazing, and it still to this day 8 years later is the best soil I have, loose and friable. I do a chop and drop of "weeds" and tree material now, as I don't like the idea of bringing in a continual supply of material. Note that this was for an orchard though, so if its for an intensive vegetable patch then ongoing weed free supply of straw mulch would be a good idea. Cheers.
have done some sheet mulching here..one thing to be aware of, if you have quack grass which runs by stolens it will permeate the cardboard and grow up through it..so watch for it..have a serious quack grass problem here
Bloom where you are planted.
We had good luck with sheet composting a small herb bed this past year. We put down cardboard, then a layer of rabbit manure, followed by a layer of straw. We then let it sit until the following Spring, at which time we planted several herbs and peppers which grew very well. Right now we are working on expanding the herb garden. This year we're using horse manure instead of rabbit manure. I'm also piling leaves on top of the straw.
Location: Alberta Canada 3b I think....
posted 5 years ago
thanks for the tip brenda, we dont have a huge amount of quack grass where we are at.
We are hoping to grow a vegetable garden in there. Like I say, I live in a rental, so I dont have a lot of leeway for permanent changes to the area around the condo. So, In an effort to be more self sustaining, we borrow a garden from a guy up the road who would otherwise put it to grass, and we have sheet mulched a patch for tomatoes in the yard beside the condo. I wish we had a place of our own to do a lot more in, but thats not where we are at yet....
We stared our gardens this way 3 years ago, though we knew it as "lasagna gardening" at the time. The first beds we put in were our strawberries. Since we had just purchased our property, we diddn't get the gardens started until about June that year. We used a cardboard kill layer directly on the lawn, then layered about 12" of leaves, grass clippings and other mulch materials and put a nice thick layer of mushroom compost on top that we purchased from a farm down the road. Within a month of planting, the strawberries were producing. We only got a dozen berries or so, but not bad for a brand new planting. The next year the 2 4'x 20' beds of June bearing plants produced about a gallon a day for 3 weeks or so. The Biggest, best strawberries I've ever had (though I MIGHT be biased).
We now have a total of 6 lasagna beds, and have been really happy with the results for most things. The difference in weeding between our lasagna beds and our neighbor's tilled garden is outrageous. It amazes me that people continue to turn the soil like it's the only way. In the Spring I use a pitchfork to loosen the soil. Not turning it, just stabbing straight down and gently rocking it back and forth a couple of times. I also cut the edge with a flat shovel to keep the grass back, then we add a thin layer of fresh compost and plant. About every other week or so I use a string trimmer to maintain the grass edge and pull the occasional weed.
Compared to our square foot beds, the sheet mulched beds performed much better in the unusually hot, dry summer. They continued to produce better plants with less watering, even after the square foot beds stopped growing completely due to heat.
Since then, I have learned about permaculture, which is changing all our plans. I am currently working on creating new vegetable gardens closer to the house in zone 1, and the lasagna beds will eventually be converted into a forest garden/poultry pasture area (zone 2). But for anyone looking to start a new garden bed or build soild quickly, sheet muching is a great way to go. My only complaint is the soil is still tightly packed below the now rotted kill layer and our carrots can't seem to grow down into it. I imagine this can be improved with the right soil busting plants such as daikon radish, but I have not tried it.
I had a total 'duh!' moment once I read about this concept. its so awesome that we can use the old grass clippings, leaves, and garden refuse to feed our gardens. And that on top of all that, we don't have to cultivate our garden plots either, in fact that its better not to. I had no idea that organic matter in land fills produced such toxic waste in the form of methane and others. Such a simple concept that prevents so much damage and produces something so useful. This, along with other permaculture concepts and practises should be the definition of the green movement. Thanks all for keeping me and others inspired to continue on
just a comment on the effectiveness of sheet mulching, and heavy mulching altogether. There are millions of ungerminated seeds in your soil. Millions. When you till your soil, you are giving all of them a chance to germinate. A book by Ken Druse submits that nature builds soil from the top down, so should we.
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