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creating garden bed in Quebec with broadfork and sheet mulch?  RSS feed

 
Patrice Robert
Posts: 6
Location: Québec, Canada zone 3b
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Good afternoon everyone.

After much reading, time for me to go to the field.

I was preparing the soil with my broadfork, when after two hours of work, i cannot feel my arms anymore. It's a very tough job.

I take some pictures to show you where my garden will be and some pics from the soil.

The soil is coverd with grass, and it's seem to be made from clay. Plenty of earthworms and, i supossed, full of micro-organism. It's mostly spruce and fir and pine we have on the land and some aspen.

I really don't want to till or plough the land, so thats why i'm asking for advice.

Should i use sheet mulching? Because the soil look's good to me. It's just that it is difficult to use the broadfork.

Here's some pic's:





Thank you everyone. As for my raised bed, i will do at least one or two. I wish to try as many soil preparation as possible.

 
Michael Milligan
Posts: 55
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Sheet mulching is the way to go for me! Always lol.

 
Patrice Robert
Posts: 6
Location: Québec, Canada zone 3b
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Guess i'l have to use the broadfork just to dig small holes and then, sheet mulching.

Thannk's
 
Linda Vermonter
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Hi, Patrice! Your soil looks like it has lots of clay (anybody else think so, or is it just me?) The nice thing about sheet mulching is that you can add all kinds of things ... a layer of sand, a layer of compost (these two are especially important if you do have heavy clay soil), bone meal, leaves, thick overlapped newspaper or cardboard to act as a weed barrier ... All of these things break down together, worms and other soil critters move in and stir it up.

I've heard people call this "lasagna" gardening.

You can plant right into the layers, water the seedlings well, and bring the cardboard/newspaper right up close to the plant to keep out weeds. By next year your soil will be much improved and you won't have dug up a singe spadeful of dirt.

Building a raised bed and filling it with compost and soil is another great way to counteract your clay.
 
Patrice Robert
Posts: 6
Location: Québec, Canada zone 3b
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Good afternoon Linda an thank's for posting.

Indeed, my soil is full of clay. When the soil is dry, it's light grey in color. By rolling the soil between my fingers, it stick and keep it's rolled shape.

When i loose the soil with the broadfork, the soil is heavy to lift, but moist and fresh. There is still some snow on shaded parts of my land. But the earth is workable.

Lasagna garden was my "Plan B". I just think it's now "Plan A"

I have an abundant source of cardboard at my local reno center recycle bin.

A friend of mine will ask is dad if i can go to his barn and pick horse and chiken manure and he will be able to give me some strawbales for top mulch.

As for the sand and black earth, i can ask the former house owner where i'm living for bulk, because is in the landscaping business.

But, when you say, thick cardboard layer, what is the minimum thickness (in inches). Also, i don't have acces to compost. Can i put leaves and pine needles instead?

So much to do and not much time left to do it.

Thank's again!

Patrice.

Also, should i continue to dig some holes in the ground prior to lasagna, or should i leave the ground unsdisturbed?
 
Heidi Hoff
Posts: 127
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Bonjour Patrice,

Depending on what you are intending to plant and how thick your sheet mulch is going to be, you can either:

  • dig holes beforehand and mark them, so you can put in things like trees and larger shrubs; OR
  • simply push aside the sheet mulch where you intend to plant and cut through the cardboard (if you used it to block weeds) with a utility knife, so you can put in seedlings and small shrubs; OR
  • plant directly into the top layers of the sheet mulch, for all herbaceous plants and seeds.


  • The cardboard is optional, depending on how deep the other layers of sheet mulch are. The point is to block all possibility of the grasses and other undesirable plants underneath growing up through the mulch.

    I was able to get a lot of free mulching materials from neighbours, including four giant square bales of spoiled hay, lots of leaves from last fall, and mixed manure and bedding from horses, goats and chickens. We also paid for a few loads of chipped wood (perfect for the final layer to block out new undesirable seeds). I would guess that you could easily do the same in your area. A trailer is a good investment if you don't already have some means of hauling materials.

    Bonne chance avec tous vos projets! J'ai hâte de voir le progrès!



     
    Patrice Robert
    Posts: 6
    Location: Québec, Canada zone 3b
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    Merci Heidi

    Indeed, i inted to plant to the top of the layer mulch. I will mostly growing cucumber, melon (Oka) corn, pumpkin, peas, green bean, tomatos, zuchini and spagheti squach.

    The trailer would be my next priority.

    A friend of mine will bring me some strw bales and some manure coming from the familly horse and chikens. I will trow in some dead leaf and i have plentyfull of pine needles on the ground.

    Il be posting some photos de mon jardin

    Patrice
     
    Ray South
    Posts: 64
    Location: Northern Tablelands, NSW, Australia
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    If you have plenty of cardboard and other organic matter then sheet mulching is the way to go. I garden on heavy clay and that's the way most of my beds were created. If your back is up to it, forking it open beforehand will help. I'm not sure about adding sand. I've heard of people adding sand and having their clay soils turn to something like concrete. It has to do with the composition of the clay. Perhaps try some sand in one area and see how it goes.
     
    Kris Minto
    Posts: 137
    Location: Ottawa, Canada -- Zone 4b/5a
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    Bonjour Patrice,

    As suggested below because you have quiet a bit of clay I would just throw as much of mulch material you can get your hands on. Plan nitrogen fixing and high bio-mass plants. Come the fall you could always do a run around the neighborhood for any garden bags you see.

    Kris
     
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