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Sheet Mulching now?  RSS feed

 
                            
Posts: 13
Location: Whidbey Island, Washington
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Hello,
I am thinking about doing some sheet mulching in my garden in the next month. 
I am not sure if this is a good idea or if I should wait until fall when the rains come and the chances of the cardboard breaking down faster are greater.  I just have quite a bit of grass and weeds in areas which I want to grow in and don't really want to do the pulling out weeds, composting thing again.  It just takes so long and I the sheet mulching is
just so much better. 
I would really appreciate advice about this. 
Thanks, Julie
 
Kelda Miller
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I would go ahead and do it if you're in the mood. I've even sheet mulched in the heat of summer.

About moisture: just water the cardboard a lot when you're laying it down. If it's a workparty have someone full time on the hose, spraying the cardboard after it's layed. Water will sheet off at first, but keep watering until it gets soggier and soggier. (Even if you sheet mulched in the rainy season, you'd still want to make sure the cardboard is sogging wet).

Lots of layers!
Have fun!
 
                            
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Location: Whidbey Island, Washington
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Hi Kelda,
Thanks.....that helps a lot. Peace, Julie
 
Leah Sattler
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Although not a permanent solution or one to use next to actively growing plants, old shingles  make great weed smothering "mulch" (in a very loose sense of the term) I use them in paths borders and to initially kill off germinated weeds in preparation for planting. Tthey don't contribute to the soil of course and don't allow water through so I woulnd't use them as permanent weed barriers around plants.
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I think the subject is covered well, I just wanna throw something in ... just my own opinion that is significantly different from most permies:  I would not use cardboard or newspaper for mulch.  It's the glues that hold the bits of fiber together that bother me.  Most folks seem completely comfortable with it.  I'm not.

I'm a big fan of using bales of alfalfa. 

As for shingles ... we're talking about tar shingles, right?  While I can see how this would, indeed, be entirely effective for what you are suggesting, and it is far better than using herbicides ...  I would still look for a something a bit more benign.  But ... that's just me.

 
Jeff Anderson
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Location: Tacoma, WA
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paul wheaton wrote:
I think the subject is covered well, I just wanna throw something in ... just my own opinion that is significantly different from most permies:   I would not use cardboard or newspaper for mulch.  It's the glues that hold the bits of fiber together that bother me.  Most folks seem completely comfortable with it.  I'm not.

I'm a big fan of using bales of alfalfa. 

As for shingles ... we're talking about tar shingles, right?  While I can see how this would, indeed, be entirely effective for what you are suggesting, and it is far better than using herbicides ...  I would still look for a something a bit more benign.  But ... that's just me.




I've always felt uncomfortable about the inks in newspaper. I've been told a hundred times that its biodegradable, ( non-glossy, non-color ink) but I just don't like it.

 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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My understanding is that the ink on black and white non-glossy is almost always soy based.  But still, it seems a bit iffy to me. 

But the glues to hold the fibers together:  I think for a newspaper there is probably ten times more glue than ink.  I've read some stuff that suggests that the glues are not good for the environment (something about formaldehyde) and I have yet to read any kind of counter argument that I trust.

 
Leah Sattler
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Paul- I understand the hesitation with the shingles. Right next to plants I use old hay straw and stall cleanings. Of course alot of people catch runoff from their roof to water their garden (happens to be in my future plans) I don't think that is much different. I like to (read... have to) find ways to use what I can get for free as much as possible or I just do without. and that darn bermuda grass will make a person take some pretty radical action if I could get alfalfa to use as mulch....oh I would faint. I might just fall to my kness crying to see good alfalfa hay strewn on the ground. Its about 12-15$ a bale here. It probably wouldn't get past my goats anyway.
 
Charley Hoke
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Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
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It was about this time last year that I started preparing a bed that by early September was ready for fall planting.

It was a garden bed already but the soil was not too good.

I started with horse stall cleanings a layer about 4 inches thick. Then a layer of grass clippings, hay, and leaves, then another layer of stall cleanings, and a thin layer of grass clippings on top. I gave this area a good soaking about once a week and that was it. I had very little problems with weeds till this spring, but they were easy to get rid of.

I agree with Paul about the glue in the cardboard, plus any other chemicals that may be in there.
 
paul wheaton
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If you call the folks that sell the alfalfa by the ton, sometimes you will find that they have some that is moldy that they will give away if you pick it up.

 
Leah Sattler
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I never thought to call around looking for moldy alfalfa. Thats a great idea! still may not be possible because few people grow alfalfa around here because of the blister beetle problem. I think that is alot of the reason why it is so expensive. It generally has to be purchased retail unless you can order a semi load from up north. Nobody wants to grow it because the horse people won't buy it local because of the whole horses dropping dead thing it might be partially a climate thing too.Tthat being said some feed store or rancher who bought a lot might have a load that got wet during a storm.
 
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