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Author Topic: Sheet Mulching Anyone?  (Read 2596 times)

Bugscuttle

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Sheet Mulching Anyone?
« on: August 06, 2011, 07:30:23 pm »
On reading Starhawk's wonderful little book, The Earth Path I was inspired to do more than just compost in a bin.  My friend lets me garden on his property.  Last year he got rid of his aboveground pool so I'd have more gardening space.  I grow herbs almost excusively for my practice and for sale.
     So what I have is a large circular indentation that I was going to fill with black dirt.  But that costs more money than I can spare.  So here's where I thought sheet mulching would be perfect.
     So far I've laid down a layer of cardboard (boxes) followed by grass clippings.  On top of this will go manure (horse, cow) followed by more cardboard, grass, leaves, etc. until we have a workable garden.  I'm thinking this won't happen next year.
     Have you done anything like this?  If so what was your experience?  Any hints, caveats?  I'm no farmer, I'm a city boy who's come later in my path to Herbalism.  I have learned so MUCH over the last three years (mostly the hard way :o ) and I know that I will never know enough.  But that's half the fun!  So thanks in advance for any words of wisdom.
ash

Bugscuttle

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Re: Sheet Mulching Anyone?
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2011, 02:08:08 am »
Quote from: Bugscuttle;11025
On reading Starhawk's wonderful little book, The Earth Path I was inspired to do more than just compost in a bin.  My friend lets me garden on his property.  Last year he got rid of his aboveground pool so I'd have more gardening space.  I grow herbs almost excusively for my practice and for sale.
     So what I have is a large circular indentation that I was going to fill with black dirt.  But that costs more money than I can spare.  So here's where I thought sheet mulching would be perfect.
     So far I've laid down a layer of cardboard (boxes) followed by grass clippings.  On top of this will go manure (horse, cow) followed by more cardboard, grass, leaves, etc. until we have a workable garden.  I'm thinking this won't happen next year.
     Have you done anything like this?  If so what was your experience?  Any hints, caveats?  I'm no farmer, I'm a city boy who's come later in my path to Herbalism.  I have learned so MUCH over the last three years (mostly the hard way :o ) and I know that I will never know enough.  But that's half the fun!  So thanks in advance for any words of wisdom.
ash

 
Anyone?

RandallS

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Re: Sheet Mulching Anyone?
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2011, 07:58:33 am »
Quote from: Bugscuttle;11357
Anyone?

Not here, I'm adfraid. I've never known anyone who tried this, so I have no idea how well it would work.
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Morag

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Re: Sheet Mulching Anyone?
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2011, 08:37:16 am »
Quote from: Bugscuttle;11357
Anyone?

 
My mom does something similar to sheet mulching (she calls it "lasagna gardening") and it seems to work fairly well for her.
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savveir

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Re: Sheet Mulching Anyone?
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2011, 10:22:26 am »
Quote from: Bugscuttle;11025
On reading Starhawk's wonderful little book, The Earth Path
     So far I've laid down a layer of cardboard (boxes) followed by grass clippings.  On top of this will go manure (horse, cow) followed by more cardboard, grass, leaves, etc. until we have a workable garden.
ash

 I've done something like that before, but knew it under a different name. I know it as 'no dig' gardening as it doesn't require any digging to make :p
after some googling under that name i came up with this site which seems to be decent, though i've only glanced at it so far.
Whilst i have a conventional garden bed, i made up a raised no dig bed for my mother last year, so if you have any questions i might be able to help.
"I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it."
-Lewis Carroll

sugarmagnolia

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Re: Sheet Mulching Anyone?
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2011, 03:40:10 am »
Quote from: Bugscuttle;11025
On reading Starhawk's wonderful little book, The Earth Path I was inspired to do more than just compost in a bin.  My friend lets me garden on his property.  Last year he got rid of his aboveground pool so I'd have more gardening space.  I grow herbs almost excusively for my practice and for sale.
     So what I have is a large circular indentation that I was going to fill with black dirt.  But that costs more money than I can spare.  So here's where I thought sheet mulching would be perfect.
     So far I've laid down a layer of cardboard (boxes) followed by grass clippings.  On top of this will go manure (horse, cow) followed by more cardboard, grass, leaves, etc. until we have a workable garden.  I'm thinking this won't happen next year.
     Have you done anything like this?  If so what was your experience?  Any hints, caveats?  I'm no farmer, I'm a city boy who's come later in my path to Herbalism.  I have learned so MUCH over the last three years (mostly the hard way :o ) and I know that I will never know enough.  But that's half the fun!  So thanks in advance for any words of wisdom.
ash

 
This is similar to what I plan on trying this fall.  The plan is to scalp the grass in the areas that I'll be using, cover it with cardboard then layer dead leaves and any kind of manure that I can get a hold of.  Kitchen scraps will be incorporated as well.  

We have a heavy clay soil and limited funds, so hopefully this will help.  The heat and drought killed off the majority of my garden this year.  What little rain we had just ran off the top.   The only thing that managed to halfway survive the last month was the cucumber plants that were mulched with pine straw.

live oak

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Re: Sheet Mulching Anyone?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2011, 12:19:50 pm »
Quote from: Bugscuttle;11025

     Have you done anything like this?  If so what was your experience?  

 
The first year we had our garden we set it up by sheet mulching/lasagna gardening. It had definite pros and cons.

The best part about it was no digging. We laid out the the newspaper, clippings, leaves, coffee grounds, kitchen scraps and compost then covered it with a tarp and let it sit for awhile, watering it occasionally.

It only worked 'okay' for us. The main problem was that without just a huge amount of materials there wasn't enough compost/soil made for the roots of larger plants (like tomatoes, eggplants, etc) to go anywhere. The topsoil eroded fairly quickly, and this year we had to amend it heavily with compost and garden soil to replenish. Also, the newspaper at the bottom never fully decomposed. We were hoping it would and that our terrible clay soil would begin to be amended by the compost on top. Didn't happen.

From reading your post though you say that you've used manure--I'm sure if we had that would have made all the difference. It just wasn't available to us at the time. Manure, in my experience, really helps get soil going!

Hope that helps!

yewberry

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Re: Sheet Mulching Anyone?
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2011, 06:29:03 pm »
Quote from: Bugscuttle;11025
Have you done anything like this?  If so what was your experience?  Any hints, caveats?


That's pretty much how I start all new garden beds.  The soil here is too damned rocky to dig, so no-dig beds are a great solution.  I usually use several layers of newspaper and/or brown packing paper on the ground (I used cardboard once, but it didn't break down as quickly or thoroughly as I hoped, so I mostly just use that for paths now), followed by manure topped with leaves.  I usually mulch the pathways with whatever's handy (straw, leaves, coffee chaff, wood chips):



The above was laid down in late February/early March for a June/July planting of nitrogen lovers like corn and squash.

I have very sandy/silty soil that drains well and live in a temperate climate with lots of rain, so things break down quickly.  If you have clay soil and harsh winters or in a dry climate, it can take a little longer for worms and microorganisms to get to work.  No matter where you live, though, it's a very easy way to start a garden.

Brina

Nyktipolos

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Re: Sheet Mulching Anyone?
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2011, 06:32:57 pm »
Quote from: yewberry;12087

The above was laid down in late February/early March for a June/July planting of nitrogen lovers like corn and squash.

I have very sandy/silty soil that drains well and live in a temperate climate with lots of rain, so things break down quickly.  If you have clay soil and harsh winters or in a dry climate, it can take a little longer for worms and microorganisms to get to work.  No matter where you live, though, it's a very easy way to start a garden.

Brina


Is this something someone could put down in the fall, and then plant in the spring? This sounds like something I could do... but there is no way I could do this in a month like February or March because up here everything is still hip-deep in snow. :)
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I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night." - Sarah Williams
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yewberry

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Re: Sheet Mulching Anyone?
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2011, 06:49:56 pm »
Quote from: Nyktipolos;12089
Is this something someone could put down in the fall, and then plant in the spring? This sounds like something I could do... but there is no way I could do this in a month like February or March because up here everything is still hip-deep in snow. :)


Oh, absolutely.  If you have cold winters, the only thing acting to break down the organic matter is the freeze/thaw cycle (and a little microorganism action, but very little at cold temps), so you'll definitely want more lead time.

Brina

Nyktipolos

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Re: Sheet Mulching Anyone?
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2011, 06:59:29 pm »
Quote from: yewberry;12093
Oh, absolutely.  If you have cold winters, the only thing acting to break down the organic matter is the freeze/thaw cycle (and a little microorganism action, but very little at cold temps), so you'll definitely want more lead time.

Brina

 

Good to know. Thanks! :D
"Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night." - Sarah Williams
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