Sheet mulching; requires a minimal amount of equipment, time and energy to create a new garden bed. We gathered a few weeks ago to make a new garden for native plants by laying down layers of materials that will kill the grass, enrich and build up the soil. Working with the seasons as our allies we have left it to break down through the fall, winter and early spring, while we plan the garden we will plant in the spring. This process is sometimes called lasagna mulching as it is a sort of horizontal composting. It is like large scale cooking, with less rules and maybe more fun.
Nitrogen sources: coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, composted manures, seaweed, vegetable scraps, fresh grass clippings, etc.
Carbon sources: wood chips big and small, newspaper, cardboard, dry leaves, straw, peat moss, etc.
* You must remove unwieldy persistent weeds such as knotweed, goutweed, bindweed, etc. before you begin to lay down your layers.
* We weren’t too particular but working with the laws of nature it is best to alternate layers between carbon and nitrogen.
1. Because we had to keep the aesthetics of the site in mind we marked out the shape of the garden we wanted to make with stakes and string. Then we planted a serviceberry (amelachier humilis) in its new home in the garden.
2. Kill your grass by placing layers of thick, overlapped newspaper (non shiny pages, soy ink) or cardboard. It’s important to leave no spaces so that the grass will be deprived of light and die.3. Carbon layer- newspaper. *wet the newspaper to keep it safe from the wind.4. Carbon layer – straw.5. Nitrogen layer – seaweed and greens from the garden.
9. Our new garden.In the spring we will unwrap the garden and hope to find that it has broken down to the point that the original materials are unrecognizable, the grass dead and the new garden ready to be planted.
For more information.
+ A Cup of Coffee for Me, A Cup of Coffee for the Garden… from this blog gives great detail about the specific virtues of composting materials.
By Rebecca Singer