I work in the financial industry and I interact with a lot of people that are active stock traders. Many of them are successful traders. The most interesting thing is that they use many different methods to get them to their goal of making money. I have a lot of people that are starting out in trading ask me what strategies or indicators are the best. I smile because there really isn’t a best. There are a lot of ways to get to the same place.
Gardening is the same. There are a lot of different methods used in gardens and a lot of them work. In recent articles we have discussed row gardening, square foot gardening, and wide row gardening. I really believe that there isn’t one best method, it depends on the person, the area, the plants you are growing, and other factors. The gardening method in the spotlight today has many names but we will call sheet mulching. Many of you might know this method as lasagna gardening.
Sheet mulching is a process of layering levels of compost to make a nice, rich soil for your garden and plants. In order to sheet mulch a person 1) determines the area where they want to garden. 2) Remove all of the existing vegetation by mowing or cutting as low as possible. 3) Covers the area with 4 to 6 layers of newspaper or cardboard. This will kill the vegetation that is below the cardboard. 4) Adds a 2 to 3 inch layer of brown compost which can include dry leaves, manure, worm castings, straw, and wood chips. 5) Add a 2 to 3 inch layer of green compost like grass clippings, vegetable peelings, and plants and plant cuttings. 6) Continue layering until it is 18 inches to 3 feet deep.
It is best to start this process in the fall as it can take some time for the materials to break down and be ready for your garden. The easiest way to know your bed is ready is to check it. If the materials have broken down to the point that they are unrecognizable, you are ready to plant. Layers are added to the soil as compost becomes available.
Oregon State University has a great pdf on sheet mulching here.
Here is another from Washington State’s extension.Advantages of Sheet Mulching
Since the soil is made by composting, it will be rich and full of nutrients.
Initial barrier helps inhibit weed growth.
There is no need for tilling so soil will remain undisturbed.
Soil is able to retain water efficiently so less water is needed.
Disadvantages to Sheet Mulching
Once the mulch is layered, a gardener has to wait a while (up to 6 months) before it is ready for planting.
Slug populations may increase during the initial composting.
Weeds and plant pathogens in the compost materials are not destroyed in the mulching process.
Have you ever used the Sheet mulching or Lasagna Gardening? Share a comment about your experiences.