Thursday, May 28, 2009

Best Explanation of Sheet Mulching. Ever.

And it is no surprise, as it was written by local permaculture dynamo Christine Gyovai for the Piedmont Garden Swap. Learn more about area permaculture events and opportunities at the Blue Ridge Permaculture Network site.

The part about the multitude of happy worms is what really got me. Read on.


Hi all,

I've built several beds with sheet mulching - layering newspaper and cardboard (and compost, etc.) - with varying degrees of success.

My most recent beds have worked out wonderfully - we have about 450 sq. ft. of sheet mulched beds.

I removed all glossy colored sections from the newspapers, and removed all tape from cardboard. I think the Cville Weekly uses soy-based ink; would want to double check with them for sure.

I put the cardboard down first, overlapping the edges by 6 in, watered the layers well, put an inch of compost down, put down newspaper (about 6 sheets thick) again overlapping, watered well, and covered the whole bed with thick straw mulch. It takes a few seasons to break down, and you want to keep it as wet as a wrung out sponge. The worms go crazy (I've never seen so many worms). They come up and eat the sugars and starches in the newspaper and cardboard and aerate the soil, and you get their castings. Really remarkable. I've planted seeds and starts directly into the beds.

Here's a link to a project I worked on in Charlottesville for a class I co-taught. You can see pictures of building sheet mulch beds, as well as read a document Kathleen Maier wrote about the process:

The book Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway gives a great description of sheet mulching as well.

Hope that helps,



June said...

We have heavy clay soil here, heavy, heavy. I do the vegetables in raised beds. After double-digging one flower bed, I went to sheet mulching and will never do anything else. The worms love it. The roots luxuriate. The flowers boom. And, oh, does my back appreciate it.

Libby said...

So would sheet mulching work where we are? (oh great garden coach :) We tilled the clay, added shredded leaves and topsoil, but not sure our roots are luxuriating....

Libby said...

Also, does it matter what season you start this process?