pointer80
Senior Member
Posts: 233
Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:50 pm
Location: northern Michigan

starting to sheet mulch the garden and a question.

Here are some pics of what I am doing in my garden this week. I am applying a layer of cardboard as sheet mulch and putting shredded leaves on top that I shredded and gathered up with my riding lawn mower and bagger last fall so they are decomposing nicely. I also have some straw that is a couple years old and has been sitting out getting wet. My question is there anything else that I could also use as mulch if I run out of the above mentioned materials? Thanks all.
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imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11118
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: starting to sheet mulch the garden and a question.

The cardboard will act as the weed block and I usually put that on the bottom of the bed. Sheet mulching is just like composting. It sounds like you only added browns. You should be adding alternating layers of browns and greens with some manure to top off each set as a nitrogen source. Build the stack around 18 inches high ending with a brown layer. If you want to plant right away. Add 4 inches of potting soil or something like Mel's mix to the top. for planting. You will need to add extra nitrogen and composted manure to support both the plants and the decomposition process. I usually start off with a green manure or legume crop first since they do not need a lot of nitrogen and wait about 6 months to plant anything that is a heavy feeder like tomatoes. You can mulch with straw if you want. I have used plastic bags I cut open from the potting soil as mulch, since I have it and it works well for me. I have to go halfway around the island to get a bale of straw. If you are planting tomatoes and you have not added greens, you will have to supplement nitrogen to feed the decomposers and the tomatoes. I never tried to do that organically. Nitrogen is the hardest element to get enough of organically.

Sheet mulching is a good way to start a garden in the late spring and summer when there is a lot of material collected from fall and new clippings from Spring growth. It takes 6 months to decompose so it is something you only plant with light feeders at first and do the first heavy planting in the fall or the next Spring.

https://extension.oregonstate.edu/garde ... composting
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

SQWIB
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Posts: 889
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2016 2:21 pm
Location: Zone 7A - Philadelphia, PA

Re: starting to sheet mulch the garden and a question.

pointer80 wrote:Here are some pics of what I am doing in my garden this week. I am applying a layer of cardboard as sheet mulch and putting shredded leaves on top that I shredded and gathered up with my riding lawn mower and bagger last fall so they are decomposing nicely. I also have some straw that is a couple years old and has been sitting out getting wet. My question is there anything else that I could also use as mulch if I run out of the above mentioned materials? Thanks all.

What I do is keep adding to the bed all season, if its a compostable like breads, or "certain" food items I just tuck it under the soil. For the mulch I just keep adding trimmed materials from the garden and yard, weeds and all, just be careful with weed seeds, I also interplant with oregano, crimson, clover, strawberries, chives, marigolds, onion tops that sprout, thyme etc...

At the least I would pop some holes in that cardboard to prevent runoff unless you got enough stuff on top to keep the cardboard wet.




I would love to see this turn into a mini hugelkultur bed. At the end of the season just toss down cardboard on top of everything, cover with some heavy twigs, hedge clippings and the like, layer in some other yard waste like nitrogen (grass clippings, urea) top with some browns, shredded paper, leaves then top with a thin layer of garden soil or used potting soil and toss in some oats and crimson clover for next years planting.

Oats at the end of the season (50lbs for $15.00)

Image


interplanting and large chunks of bark and very large rocks for mulch and micro climates.


Image

don't forget you can use rocks too!

Image

pointer80
Senior Member
Posts: 233
Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:50 pm
Location: northern Michigan

Re: starting to sheet mulch the garden and a question.

imafan26 wrote:The cardboard will act as the weed block and I usually put that on the bottom of the bed. Sheet mulching is just like composting. It sounds like you only added browns. You should be adding alternating layers of browns and greens with some manure to top off each set as a nitrogen source. Build the stack around 18 inches high ending with a brown layer. If you want to plant right away. Add 4 inches of potting soil or something like Mel's mix to the top. for planting. You will need to add extra nitrogen and composted manure to support both the plants and the decomposition process. I usually start off with a green manure or legume crop first since they do not need a lot of nitrogen and wait about 6 months to plant anything that is a heavy feeder like tomatoes. You can mulch with straw if you want. I have used plastic bags I cut open from the potting soil as mulch, since I have it and it works well for me. I have to go halfway around the island to get a bale of straw. If you are planting tomatoes and you have not added greens, you will have to supplement nitrogen to feed the decomposers and the tomatoes. I never tried to do that organically. Nitrogen is the hardest element to get enough of organically.

Sheet mulching is a good way to start a garden in the late spring and summer when there is a lot of material collected from fall and new clippings from Spring growth. It takes 6 months to decompose so it is something you only plant with light feeders at first and do the first heavy planting in the fall or the next Spring.

https://extension.oregonstate.edu/garde ... composting
Thanks for the reply. I already have my garden planted this year, I just want a weed block and help build the soil for next season. I will be adding material from my yard etc. as I get them this summer.

pointer80
Senior Member
Posts: 233
Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:50 pm
Location: northern Michigan

Re: starting to sheet mulch the garden and a question.

SQWIB wrote:
pointer80 wrote:Here are some pics of what I am doing in my garden this week. I am applying a layer of cardboard as sheet mulch and putting shredded leaves on top that I shredded and gathered up with my riding lawn mower and bagger last fall so they are decomposing nicely. I also have some straw that is a couple years old and has been sitting out getting wet. My question is there anything else that I could also use as mulch if I run out of the above mentioned materials? Thanks all.

What I do is keep adding to the bed all season, if its a compostable like breads, or "certain" food items I just tuck it under the soil. For the mulch I just keep adding trimmed materials from the garden and yard, weeds and all, just be careful with weed seeds, I also interplant with oregano, crimson, clover, strawberries, chives, marigolds, onion tops that sprout, thyme etc...

At the least I would pop some holes in that cardboard to prevent runoff unless you got enough stuff on top to keep the cardboard wet.




I would love to see this turn into a mini hugelkultur bed. At the end of the season just toss down cardboard on top of everything, cover with some heavy twigs, hedge clippings and the like, layer in some other yard waste like nitrogen (grass clippings, urea) top with some browns, shredded paper, leaves then top with a thin layer of garden soil or used potting soil and toss in some oats and crimson clover for next years planting.

Oats at the end of the season (50lbs for $15.00)

Image


interplanting and large chunks of bark and very large rocks for mulch and micro climates.


Image

don't forget you can use rocks too!

Image
Thanks nice pictures, very helpfull

Taiji
Greener Thumb
Posts: 885
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:19 am
Location: Gardening in western U.P. of MI. 46+ N. lat. elev 1540. zone 3

Re: starting to sheet mulch the garden and a question.

I'm basically doing the same thing as you have with cardboard or newspaper between the planting beds/rows, except that my planting rows are about 3 feet wide and walkways are 2 feet. Don't have a recent pic but where you see green grass growing between the rows; that area is now all covered with cardboard or newspaper and topped with a thick layer of grass clippings. I had a few leaves left from last year's leaf fall too, but mostly grass clippings cause that's all I have right now. I do put wet garbage either under the grass clippings or bury in the planting beds.

My plan is to scoop up the whole mess in the aisleways along with some soil at season's end and throw on top of the beds to get more of a raised situation. I'm finding with all the moisture in this new location that is really important.
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