Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sheet mulching, working smarter not harder

During the past few years gardening here has been very labour intensive. Building a garden in a paddock is hard work and we are organic in principle so no spraying of weeds allowed. I feel like I am always getting things back in order and it is very hard work. This is exacerbated by the fact that for the last three years I have been away at least two weeks every month  working and Peter has been working and renovating so the garden has always lacked regular consistent attention.
Well that is going to change, I am not going to be away working nearly as much, in fact I am not going to work nearly as much at all so i will have much more time for the garden.
I really want to get on top of some of the hard jobs in the garden in a more permanent way. Not least because I am getting older and although I think the hard work is good for me it does at times sap my motivation and get in the way of my enjoyment of the whole process. I want to have more time to plan and to potter and improve the aesthetics of the garden and not always playing catch up with the weeds and the mowing.
 So one of my first strategies is to do a lot of sheet mulching. I am starting with the rose gardens and have completed the Jemima garden and the white rose garden. They are large gardens, about 10 metres by five I think so it takes a fair bit of time.

Step one is to get rid of as many weeds as possible by digging them out and removing them from the garden. Often in sheet mulching you would not take this step and i only do it in the actual garden beds and because we have very tough weeds  here.





Next step is to lay our the paper in really thick sheets. My favourite paper is the Sydney Morning Herald, lovely big pages for mulching as well! I use a whole section at a time.
Then wet the paper down so it doesn't blow away.
Last step cover with lucerne hay.

When it cools down a bit and we have a rainy day I will add some composted manure and straw to the top as well.
This should really give us a good flush of autumn roses and relatively weed free gardens. Any weeds that grow through all that will be quite weak and easy to pull out as will any that grow on top. I am imagining wandering around with Jemima, when she visits in March, pulling out weeds in a leisurely manner.  




















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