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Turn Barren Soil into Black Gold: 9 Simple Steps to Sheet Mulching
Posted By admin On April 4, 2013 @ 9:00 am In Garden & Agriculture | Comments Disabled
If you want to turn a barren lot into a permaculture paradise, you’ve got to start from the ground up.
Sheet mulching is an easy way to start. You start with a biodegradable weed barrier like cardboard, and from there build a thick, layered substrate for your garden with compost and mulch. As the materials break down, worms move in, softening the soil below, and creating a healthy, aerated planting bed where once there was compacted, dead clay.
Eric Toensmeier transformed his rocky, desolate tenth of an acre into a modern-day Garden of Eden with this and other permaculture methods. He shares the skills and tips you need to do it yourself in his best-selling book Perennial Vegetables . For the visual learners out there, Toensmeier also has a new DVD , which is available alone or as a set  with the book.
For even more about the stunning transformation from bare ground to lush garden, Toensmeier’s memoir Paradise Lot  tells the whole story of how he not only made a little patch of earth a little greener, he found love , too.
So, without further ado, here’s Eric Toensmeier’s simple 9-step method for sheet mulching!
The following is an excerpt from Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious, Easy-to-Grow Edibles , by Eric Toensmeier .
Sheet mulching combines soil improvement, weed removal, and long-term mulching in one fell swoop. This technique, also known as lasagna gardening, can build remarkable soils in just a few years. There are several key components. First, a weed barrier like cardboard is laid down to smother weeds. In theory (and quite often in practice) the cardboard decomposes after the weeds have all died and turned into compost. The second ingredient is to add compost, or build a layered compost pile that will enrich your new garden bed. The third step is to add a thick layer of mulch on top, to keep new weeds from getting established. I have had great results with sheet mulching, although sometimes the first year is a bit rough on delicate species, until the raw materials break down. You can use sheet mulching to turn lawns or weedy waste areas into gardens in just a few hours, or even to build soil from scratch inside built frames for raised beds. Sheet mulch can range from just a few inches thick to 2 feet or more, depending on how bad your soil is and how much raw material you have available (it will cook down and settle quite a bit). For more information see Patricia Lanza’s Lasagna Gardening, or Edible Forest Gardens .
Nine Simple Steps to Sheet Mulching
The author’s Massachusetts front yard before sheet mulching. The soils are very poor fill from new construction.
Addition of rotted leaves below thick paper bags as a weed barrier with a layer of compost and mulch on top—just a few hours of work.
By mid-summer the garden is thriving with sweet potato, taro, edible hibiscus, and hardy bananas (yes, they over-winter in Massachusetts, but they don’t fruit here).
Jonathan Bates enjoys the results of our first year of sheet mulching. This garden has just gotten better each year. Note the fantastic growth of hyacinth beans!
Article printed from Chelsea Green: http://www.chelseagreen.com/content
URL to article: http://www.chelseagreen.com/content/9-simple-steps-to-sheet-mulching/
URLs in this post:
 Perennial Vegetables: http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/perennial_vegetables/
 DVD: http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/perennial_vegetable_gardening_with_eric_toensmeier_dvd/
 a set: http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/perennial_vegetables_set/
 Paradise Lot: http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/paradise_lot/
 love: http://www.chelseagreen.com/content/a-permaculture-love-story-paradise-lot-featured-in-the-new-york-times/
 Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious, Easy-to-Grow Edibles: http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/perennial_vegetables:paperback
 Eric Toensmeier: http://www.chelseagreen.com/authors/eric_toensmeier
 Edible Forest Gardens: http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/edible_forest_gardens_2_volume_set:hardcover