Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sheet Mulching - Grow a Garden Anywhere

If you have poor soil and want to plant flowers, vegetables, trees, herbs, just about anything, sheet mulching is the way to go. Sheet mulching allows you to build up rich soil the way nature does in the forest in a lot less time. And a sheet mulch garden can be started in an existing garden, on a lawn, or even on a concrete slab! Once it’s established, enjoy a vital, healthy garden with no tilling or weeding required! Even though it’s recommended to lay down the sheet mulch a few months before planting, I planted my vegetable garden just a week after laying down the sheet mulch and, two months later, it’s doing great! I have no weeds, the bugs are under control, and I have tomato plants that are literally over 8 feet high with tomatoes popping out all over—a record crop! 

A sheet mulched garden will only get better over time as the soil gets richer and the materials decompose. Sheet mulch increases the good micronutrients, microorganisms, earthworms, fungi, and bacteria in the garden; locks in nitrogen; decreases the need for watering; and keeps the soil cooler in summer and warmer in winter, improving plant health and life. 
Creating a sheet mulch garden does require some time and effort up front and, depending on how you do it, some expense. But it’s a good investment—once the sheet mulch is laid in, the labor required to maintain a healthy garden is greatly reduced and the plants you grow are healthier and happier!
Before you start with your sheet mulch project, you should have the pH of your soil tested, put in any amendments needed based on the results, and collect some nitrogen rich and carbon rich materials as well newspapers or cardboard. I followed, and recommend, the “Ultimate Bomb-Proof Sheet Mulch,” written by Toby Hemenway, the author of Gaia’s Garden, on determining the kinds and amounts of materials needed and on creating a sheet mulch garden.

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