Sheet Mulching

Sheet mulching is probably the best way to build organic matter and microorganisms in the soil. By composting in place you are allowing all the by-products of composting to actually be utilized by the plants you are trying to benefit.  Every time you turn a compost pile or dig your compost to bring it to the garden you are killing millions of organisms simply by exposing them to air and sunshine.  Also, there are colonies of fungi and bacteria that are busily creating a network of communication and chemistry all beneficial to our plants.  So composting in place is preferred, also called sheet composting or sheet mulching.

 

There as many different techniques for sheet mulching.  Some basic concepts should be kept in mind such as, just like building a compost pile you want about equal amounts of brown carbon source and green nitrogen sources (manure being a nitrogen source though not green), watering all the layers well.

Sheet mulching can be as easy as placing layers of cardboard down followed by wood chips on top or as extravagant as a 16 layer cake.  

 

Below is a list of some good materials for sheet mulching.  

 

 "greens" or nitrogen-rich materials:

                                           grass clippings

                                           compost

                                           manure

                                           fresh weeds

                                           waste produce

                                           blood meal

                                           seaweed

                                           

And "browns" that are carbon-rich materials use:

                                           cardboard

                                           newspaper

                                           straw

                                           dried leaves

                                           wood shavings or chips

                                            bark

You want to alternate the greens and the browns and also layer in some compost to introduce micro and macro-organisms into the pile.  

Finish your sheet mulching project up with some wood chips to encourage fungal microorganisms, increasing diversity and resilience.

Click on the picture below and start the slide

show which depicts a sheet mulching project 

#1  Set Out Your Plants
#1 Set Out Your Plants

Take some time to understand how big your plants are going to get and set them in place in their pots to visualize the arrangement. Create a map so you can recreate this arrangement once your sheet mulching is complete.

press to zoom
#2 First layer
#2 First layer

You can create a line to be the edge of the bed with a hose. If your soil is compacted open up the soil and loosen it slightly with a garden fork or spade over the entire area. Sprinkle some compost over the ground or sod for your first layer. It's best if this is homemade compost and has some worms in it.

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#10 Planting
#10 Planting

Place your plant in the hole and fill the soil back around the roots. Replace the layers back around the root ball.

press to zoom
#1  Set Out Your Plants
#1 Set Out Your Plants

Take some time to understand how big your plants are going to get and set them in place in their pots to visualize the arrangement. Create a map so you can recreate this arrangement once your sheet mulching is complete.

press to zoom
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