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Goodbye Lawn, Hello Garden: Sheet Mulching How-To

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Sheet mulching is a gardening technique that suppresses weeds and builds fertile soil. Thick layers of organic matter are placed on the ground lasagna style. The layers are then left to decompose ultimately creating a rich planting medium that's terrific for vegetable gardens and landscape planting beds. This simple method saves time and energy (no tilling!), suppresses weeds, increases the soil's water-holding capacity, feeds the microbes in the soil, improves plant vigor and health.

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Goodbye Lawn, Hello Garden: Sheet Mulching How-To

  1. 1. BENEFITS ■ Works with nature and ecology to enhance soil structure, fertility and overall health ■ Protects soil against drying out ■ Reduces soil erosion from wind and water runoff ■ Increases water infiltration ■ Conserves water: saving up to 73% of water lost through evaporation ■ Improves nutrient and water retention ■ Moderates soil temperatures: cooler in summer and helps protect soil from freezing ■ Turns the soil into a living biofilter that removes pollutants from water, protecting our waterways ■ Prevents soil compaction ■ No need to dig, till or plough (worms do it for you) ■ Provides organic matter to feed worms and soil microorganisms ■ Boosts soil biology for healthier, more nutritious foods ■ Improves plant vigor and health, which improves resistance to pests and diseases ■ Greatly suppresses weeds ■ Suppresses pathogens & pests ■ Eliminates need for pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers ■ Reduces waste: Composting and mulching green waste means less is transported to the landfill, reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution. ■ Reduces labor and maintenance costs: Weeds are composted in place and the repeated use of chemicals is not needed. ■ Saves time and energy because digging, weeding and irrigation is reduced or eliminated ■ Compost is made where it is needed, no need to transport it Cache Soil-to-Table A not-for-profit community education project of Nutritional Solutions & Jeanne M. Wallace, PhD, CNC www.facebook.com/CacheSoilToTable • www.MeetUp/Cache-Soil-to-Table INGREDIENTS ■ Barrier: newspaper and/or cardboard (no color ink or plastic tape), old cotton/ wool fabric/rugs—edges overlapped ■ Browns (carbon): wood chips, dry leaves, twigs, chemical-free sawdust, straw, spoiled hay, stable bedding, pine needles, coffee grounds, peat, coir, paper ■ Greens (nitrogen): manure (rabbit, goat, duck, chicken, etc.), lawn clippings, kitchen scraps, chop & drop comfrey or N-fixers ■ Microbial inoculant (optional): worm castings, compost, compost tea, raw milk, comfrey tea, diluted urine (10:1), fungal thread tea, spent mushroom spawn 2 cubic yards of materials (a pickup truck load) will cover a 50 sq ft bed, 8-12” deep PREPARING THE SITE: Mow or scythe back lawn or weeds; loosen soil with broadfork (optional), moisten all layers WET EACH LAYER AS YOU GO! Best time to sheet mulch: fall or spring after it’s been raining Planting into a mulched bed: Push mulch aside, form a planting pocket, poke hole in cardboard/newspaper layer for roots, fill pocket with soil or compost, plant seeds or seedlings. Maintenance: water as needed, add new biomass 1x/yr (fungal), 2x/yr (balanced) Where not to sheet mulch: near tree trunks or the crown of perennial plants, above flowering bulbs in spring (fall can work), on a steep slope Goodbye Lawn, Hello Garden: Sheet Mulching METHOD 1 Slow / Fungal Dominant Trees, Shrubs, Perennials Inoculant: mushroom spawn, fungal tea 4-6” wood chips 6-12” brown layer (straw, leaves, spoiled hay, compost) cardboard (wet!) 4-6” overlap thin layer manure, amendments existing soil or lawn, watered METHOD 2 Quick / Balanced B:F Morag Gamble: bit.ly/2oQidC3 Garden Beds ≥ 3” mulch (seed-free straw, leaves, pine needles) newspaper (wet) 6-10 sheets thick, 8” overlap Inoculant (worm tea or compost tea) 2-3” compost or manure (fully or partially decomposed) greens, straw, leaves, clippings garden, bare soil or weed patch (aerate w/broadfork or pitch fork)