Spring garden prep :: sheet mulching

We started working on our spring garden last weekend. Yes, spring garden. Our winter garden is an absolute failure. Nothing has grown. We think it’s the soil. But maybe the sun. Who knows. What we do know, is that our garden has to move.

When we moved into our house just over 4 years ago, we placed our garden around a cherry tree that didn’t seem to be doing anything. The spot was contained, it was easy to clear, and it was right outside our back door. Over the course of the past few years, we’ve learned a few things, namely that the cherry tree is indeed alive and well, and we want an even more contained garden. We want raised beds.

We have a good size backyard. There’s a wide border along the perimeter that is overgrown because we have 2 kids and lots of other things to do besides maintain every inch of it. We considered placing the garden in the border because it was contained. But, decided that this space was better used for fruit trees, cut flowers, berries, and well…weeds.

That leaves the lawn. We have lots of lawn. More than the kids need. More than we want to mow. So…we decided to convert part of the lawn to the garden. To do this, we need to get rid of the lawn. Not wanting to rent expensive equipment to remove the lawn, or dig out the lawn ourselves, we are trying sheet mulching.

Sheet mulching invites the grass into the process. It uses the good stuff that the grass contains–as well as the top soil it grows in–to help develop healthy growing conditions for vegetables. As the name implies, sheet mulching includes layers–sheets, if  you will–of other healthy, good for the earth stuff. We chose a layer of horse manure, a layer of cardboard or newspaper, and a layer of leaves or straw.

We had a yard and a half of horse manure delivered to our house last weekend and got to work.

Me, reading the Sunday paper before donating it to the sheet mulching cause.

If all goes well, these three layers will compose together and develop a nice base for adding top soil and raised beds. We’ll do the raised in a two or three months, as we get closer to planting season.

We really hope this works.

We also planted a blood orange tree. We visited the nursery and Bennett really wanted a blood orange. Margie and I were hoping for a seedless mandarin, but once Bennett saw the blood orange tree, there was no arguing. We plan to plant a kiwi and a peach tree this winter as well, but these other two will have to wait until next month.

(As you may or may not recall, we’re attempting a no spend month. We had already planned on some yard projects for January–things that had to happen in January in order to move closer to our vision for our yard this spring and summer. Although we spent money on the manure and fruit tree, we stayed within our home repair budget line item for the month. This is a good thing.)

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