Monday, January 19, 2015

Sheet mulching

The county mulches Christmas trees every year and puts them out in various locations and you can go and shovel up as much as you like.
The place near me is right next to this pastoral looking horse farm, which is actually in a very urbanized area across from a mall.

Little Creek Farm is it's name.

Pitch fork is best
for mulch
Almost three years ago we sheet mulched and piled compost over the nuisance ivy and monkey grass. After a while we put strawberries in that spot. They did well, but this past summer the English ivy (Hedera helix) and especially the monkey grass (liriope muscari) got the upper hand again.

We had to go over the strawberries too, which is sad but there was no way around it. The grass had taken over the patch.

Sheet mulching
This time we are not going to try and combat that niche with another ground cover. We are putting raised beds on the flat next to the house. It's the only area receiving good sun year round. And the white wall amplifies the light. It's facing east. We would very much like to be able to grow a bit of annuals and every other place in the yard gets shade.

First you lay down the cardboard and soak it with water. I always flip it over after one side is wet because it never seeps all the way through. After that pile on the wood chips. Six to eight inches at least. If you can time it with a rain event that is better. You don't want the cardboard to dry out on you. It doesn't really start breaking down until its saturated.

Some people recommend newspaper but the Sunday paper costs $2 and that won't cover anything much. Thick cardboard boxes are the best, think refrigerator box. Or two or three layers of thin cardboard like beer containers etc. Lawn bags also work well and you can get them free from around your neighborhood already filled with organic matter. Here is a pretty good video of the process.

It's amazing how fast the cardboard will disappear. Actually it is consumed by various organisms. Mostly by fungus here though.

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