Sheet Mulching Is Easy & Environmental

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Oh, my aching muscles...

The easiest way to build a new vegetable garden bed  this fall is to sheet mulch. It spares your back and enriches the soil in a few easy steps. We sheet mulched a small patch of lawn to show you how it’s done. You can use this technique over lawn or any uncultivated soil. You can even use sheet mulching to clear an existing weedy vegetable garden--and enrich the soil.

Site your new vegetable garden in a sunny area. Water the soil well if it’s dry.

Spread a thick layer (at least two inches) of compost or ground-up organic material to completely cover the area.

Sprinkle on a layer of fertilizer, preferably a complete organic fertilizer. Chicken manure or any granular fertilizer with N-P-K will work, though. Water again.

Spread out a sheet of newspaper and water it down. Add up to ten sheets of newspaper, watering between each one. Or, break down cardboard boxes and spread  the cardboard in a single layer. Overlap the edges of newspaper or cardboard to form a solid layer with no gaps. Then sprinkle a thin layer of compost or clean soil on top of the newspapers and water well. The water and top layer of compost will prevent the sheets from blowing away.

You don’t need to do a thing until next March or April. If there is still a solid layer of newspaper remaining in spring, remove it and add it to your compost bin or yard waste. If it’s broken down well enough, you can turn the fragments into the soil.

Depending on its texture and tilth, you may want to turn the soil with a garden spade or fork—or you can rototill it. When the soil texture is to your liking, add a little compost and more complete organic fertilizer and begin planting your early-season crops.

Choose an area that gets full sun for at least 6-8 hours.

Spread a thick layer of compost over the chosen area.

Sprinkle Complete Organic Fertilizer or chicken manure over the compost.

Add layers of newspaper over the compost, watering each as you lay it down.

Top it all off with a scattering of compost or soil, to hold the newspaper in place all winter.

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