Friday, June 11, 2010

Bomb-proof mulching!!!

That means it should be weed-proof!
After long weeks of studying the book "Gaia's Garden - a guide to home-scale permaculture" I finally got to apply my learning today, in making sheet mulch.

I have been quite obsessed with the concept of mulching since I first read about it...
It seems to me like the best way to start a new garden or improve on an old one.
Mulching improves the soil, gets rid of weeds, and makes use of a lot of materials that would usually end up burned, or in the trash. Seems like a bounty of benefits!

So today, book in hand, we went to help our neighbor to mulch an area infested by sweet peas. We had just weeded that area about 3 weeks ago, and the peas were just happlly starting to grow back.

So as permaculture tells us to make use of available materials when possible, we went around the propriety to look for stuff to use, without having to buy expensive wood chips or rice hulls...

We found an excellent compost pile, mixed with manure form the two horses, that was aged to perfection. Then for the main body of the mulch we figured we could used pine needles, as we are in the forest and the whole ground is covered with them.
Pine needles are slow to decompose and they look pretty nice and even so they make a perfect middle and top layer.

So here is our recipe for this "bomb-proof" sheet mulch:

Layer 1: whack down whatever weeds are present and leave on the ground. Then Add a 1 inch layer of compost / manure / grass clippings. (some nitrogen high material)
This layer encourages soil organisms and insects to start incorporating the mulch and turning into rich humus.

Layer 2 now we put the "sheet" part in, which consists of cardboard (plastic tape removed) and thick layers of newspapers. The paper needs to be well soaked with water before adding the next material. This layer is supposed to suffocate any weeds growing in the soil below.

Layer 3 another layer of compost, this time thicker. (about 3")

Layer 4 Is the thickest layer of carbon material, in our case we used the pine needles mixed with some dry leaves. We put his on about 8" deep.
This layer will eventually decompose and create the fluffy black humus rich soil that plants love! At this point water the muclh again until it reaches the moisture amount of a wrought sponge.

Layer 5 now a thin layer of good soil, or in our case more old, well composted horse manure.

Layer 6 And now for the top, a "pretty" layer of pine needles! Like we say in Italy "anche l'occhio vuole la sua parte" (the eye needs its part too...bad translation)

So here we are, endless loads of compost later, my back and arms got a real good workout today, and our sheet mulch is ready to go. We just have to wait about 6 months and then it will be ready for planting. Then a nice rich soil should be there waiting for us!

Now I am ready to jump in the hot tub with a cocktail for a lovely Friday nite after a day of satisfying work!

Have a great weekend!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so proud of you Viv! Who wudda ever thought I'd b learning to garden you, I love it! Hope to see you soon ;))


About Me

Forest Ranch, CA, United States
Omnatura was born in 2005 as a line of handmade jewellery in collaboration with artisans in the poor areas of the northeast of Brazil. Since then it has expanded to different countries, and has grown more and more into a concept for living. I am Vivica, the creator of Omnatura, and when my visions and priorities started shifting and expanding, I decided to let my business expand and shift with them. After all Omnatura could be translated into "All-Natural" (from the Latin base "omni" and "naturae"), and my life has been strongly moving towards this all-natural state.... After living in the city of Los Angeles for the last 17 years, and the city of Milano for many years before that, the call back to nature finally became reality this year in April, when we moved to the small community if Forest Ranch in Northern California. My dreams of self-sufficiency and threading lightly on this much abused planet are now becoming reality. A different pace of life, and still managing my business of sustainable with more integrity than ever!