Oct 302012
 

by Avis Licht

Whether you plant edible crops for the winter or not, there are a few things you can do to keep your garden healthy and protected for the winter.

Clean up under your fruit trees and mulch with compost

 

 

1. Clean out the old beds and if you have room, be sure to compost your old foliage.  There are a lot of nutrients in those plants that  came out of your ground and you can put those nutrients back into the soil. Composting is an important part of garden health.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fava beans make a wonderful winter cover crop

 

 

2. Plant cover crops to protect the soil from erosion and add nutrients as well as humus to the soil.  Fava beans and bell beans can be sown even in cold, wet weather.

 

 

 

3. Sheet mulch to cover large areas to improve the soil, get rid of weeds and prepare for future planting without having to dig the soil.  Sound too good to be true? Well it really works. Here’s an article about sheet mulching in my own back yard.

 

 

 

Mulching around plants

 

4. Mulch the soil around plants. This is one of the most important things you can do in the winter to protect the soil from erosion, hold moisture, protect roots from extreme weather and add nutrient. There are many types of mulch. Leaves, straw, wood chips, compost, and manure are some of the most common and easiest to use. As with everything else in the garden, there’s always lots to learn.  Different mulches  work better in different conditions. Check out my article on best mulching practices.

 

Frost on fallen leaves

Dec 072011
 
Sheet mulching removed the old lawn
Sheet mulching

Layers for sheet mulching

Sheet mulching is the simple act of layering greens,(weeds, garden greens, kitchen waste), cardboard, manure (although not absolutely necessary) and mulch. By doing this over the winter, you allow decomposition of weeds and the proliferation of worms under cover of cardboard.

Use sheet mulching instead of digging.  It saves your back and brings new fertility and health to your soil.  By using manure, you introduce worms into the soil and they proliferate under the protection of the cardboard.

You can use this method for both large and small areas. Sheet mulching around fruit trees keeps down weeds and will add fertility in the Spring when the tree comes out of dormancy.

In large areas, you can use it to remove that old, tired lawn. At my own home I replaced the backyard lawn that the kids and dog had used and abused and no longer looked good. I didn’t want to dig it up; that would have killed my back.  Instead I sheet mulched it.

Earthworms in compost

Earthworms can turn your weeds into beautiful, healthy soil

  • I mowed the lawn, leaving the clippings on the ground.  I rounded up all the other weeds and greens from the yard and laid them down over the lawn.
  • I laid down approximately 3 inches of manure over the whole lawn.  If you don’t have access to manure, just use as many fresh greens and kitchen compost as you have.
  • Next comes the cardboard. I went to an appliance store and picked up large cardboard boxes, free, of course. Be sure to overlap the edges to keep the weeds from sneaking through.
  • On top of this I put another layer of manure and then covered all of this in 6 inches of mulch.  You can use free shredded tree trimmings  from your local tree service, or lay out straw from bales of hay.
  • If it is dry in your part of the country, be sure to give the area a good soaking to get things decomposing.  Then let the winter take care of the rest.  Come Spring, you will find that the area is ready for new plantings.

Take a look at my back yard.  I promise you I did not dig up one square inch of the lawn that used to be there. Worms did the hard work.  You just have to invite them in with a little manure and cardboard.

Sheet mulching removed the old lawn

Without digging up a spadeful, I turned lawn into this edible landscape

P.S. If you prefer to use custom made fabrics for your sheet mulching, Amazon and Gardeners Supply
icon sell some good products. Both of these links I’ve provided will take you directly to fabrics for sheet mulching.

Sep 222011
 

Sheet Mulching for the Edible Landscape:

Former Lawn, now vegetables and fruit

Former Lawn, now vegetables and fruit

What is sheet mulching? Simply put, it is putting several different layers of materials on your soil to get rid of your lawn, weeds and unwanted plants.  It consists of manure, cardboard and  mulch.  You can use different kinds of manure and different mulches. The main purpose is to cover the weeds, allow worms to eat them and to create fertile conditions for growing your new plants. Let me tell you how I got rid of my old lawn.

The day I decided I could no longer stand to mow my lawn one more time, I also realized I wasn’t going to break my back digging it up either. Sheet mulching was my solution, and something you can also do fairly easily. Fall and winter is the perfect time to do this.  You can let the covered area sit over the winter and in spring it will be ready for planting.  Follow the simple directions below and you will be amazed at how easy it is turn turn old and in the way into new and the only way to go.

Decide on an area that you would like to replant.  In  many cases, an old lawn really suits the bill. First you mow the lawn, or cut weeds and leave them on the ground. Next, spread manure 2” deep over the whole area. If you live near horse stables, they will usually be happy to give you the manure for free.  Be sure it has composted and is not fresh.  You don’t want to bring in weed seed. If you can’t find local manure, then you can buy manure in bags from your local nursery. Thirdly,  cover the manure with large pieces of cardboard (obtained free from a nearby appliance store).

On top of the cardboard you can lay another 2 inches of manure. Cover it all with six inches of fluffy hay or any other good looking mulch.  Once done  it looks fine. Your next  help comes in the form of hardworking earthworms.  Imported in the manure they make themselves right at home under their cardboard roofs, and over time (that would be Fall and Winter) they turn the lawn into beautiful soil.  I  sheet mulched my old lawn in the fall and when spring came, I planted varieties of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries as well as lilies, roses, herbs and flowers.  It turned into a cornucopia of beautiful food. The best news was that I didn’t have to dig up the lawn at all, the worms just ate it and turned it into perfect soil.

This is really turning your yard into a beautiful Edible Landscape.

P.S. If you prefer to use custom made fabrics for your sheet mulching, Amazon and Gardeners Supply
icon sell some good products. Both of these links I’ve provided will take you directly to fabrics for sheet mulching.

 

Close up view of new area for fruit and vegetables, used to be lawn

Close up view of new area for fruit and vegetables, used to be lawn

 

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