Tuesday, July 13, 2010

No-dig gardening. Its inventor’s unclear. Wikipedia mentions [1] Japanese Masanobu Fukuoka, American Ruth Stout, and Australian Esther Dean [sic, Deans]. For reasons unclear, I’m an inveterate tiller. But last Sunday Sweetheart Vivienne and I began our first ‘no-dig’ garden bed. Or more precisely, its derivative called ‘sheet mulching’ [2]. We started our new garden bed in our orchard where there’s some spare space protected from possums, wallabies and wombats. First we laid down, straight on the grass, a thick cover of newspaper. It should have been wetted first, but with two inches (49mm) of rain in the prior 24 hours, the ground was wet already. Then on top of the newspaper we spread a thick layer of hay. Actually it was the hay from our round bales [3] that the sheep and goats had left because they’d trampled it and pissed and shat on it. The trampling and piss and shit make it perfect for sheet mulching. We want to extend the new bed three times the length of last Sunday’s tranche. We’ll leave it to mature for 6-8 weeks. Hopefully it’ll stay wet courtesy of late winter and early spring rain. Then we’ll enrich it with some compost and maybe some Dynamic Lifter too. We haven’t finally decided what to plant there yet. But we’re tending towards potatoes and pumpkins. It feels great to be using newspaper and waste hay in this way. This is a work-in-progress, folks. Stay tuned.

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