For anyone wanting to build a garden, one of the first lessons is building the soil. An easy, cost-effective way of doing it, while also conserving water, is sheet mulching. Cathy Isom tells us how to turn garbage into a gorgeous garden.
From: Urban Edibles
What is sheet mulching?
Sheet mulching is a relatively simple technique for creating gardens rich in organic matter or dealing with extremely weedy areas. The basic concept is to place layers of a variety of nitrogen and carbon rich materials on top of the soil, allowing them to break down naturally over time –in essence, composting right in the garden itself. Sheet mulching in various forms has been practiced for hundreds of years by small farmers worldwide and has been making a come-back in North America in recent years. Sheet mulching also goes by the names of sheet composting, lasagna gardening and permaculture gardening.
Why sheet mulch?
Sheet mulching has several very useful applications for the urban environment. It is a very effective way of transforming unwanted lawn space into growing areas for vegetables, perennials, shrubs and trees. It is also a very effective of way of dealing with very weedy areas as the weeds themselves are decomposed in the process, adding their nutrients to the soil. Sheet mulching is a relatively inexpensive, quick and physically less demanding way of converting lawns or dealing with weeds as it does not require digging and turning of the soil. Sheet mulching is also an excellent way to make use of a large amount of organic waste materials and has the benefits of other mulching techniques such as improving water retention in the soil and the prevention of soil compaction.
What materials can be used in a sheet mulch?
Just like in a compost pile, it is important to have a balance of nitrogenous (nitrogen rich) and carbonaceous (carbon rich) materials. Suitable nitrogenous materials include: grass clippings, green prunings and other yard waste; manures; coffee grounds; alfalfa meal or pellets; kelp meal; blood and bone meal, etc. Suitable carbonaceous materials include: newspapers (but not colored flyers); corrugated cardboard (with the tape removed); dried leaves; shredded woody materials such as raspberry canes, small branches, etc.; wood chips or bark (for the top layer only); weed free straws; etc. Some finished compost is also recommended to introduce composting bacteria, fungi and other organisms into the sheet mulch.
How do you create a sheet mulch?
Follow these basic steps:
Video from: Stop Waste
An informative slide show with Kat Weiss showing us step by step how to convert your lawn the Bay-Friendly way by using sheet mulching techniques. Learn more at http://StopWaste.Org/SheetMulch.