A few days ago the sheet mulching process began in the northwest quadrant of the land. Sheet mulching is simply laying layers of organic materials which in the end builds a raised bed without the use of wood or a lot of compost/soil. Over time, the straw breaks down and the beds shrink, but not before turning the garden bed into black gold.
Sheet mulching is also known as lasagna gardening. No digging or double digging is necessary. The process is a bit time consuming but worth it. Each new growing season just add more compost and straw before planting. The reason it’s so time consuming is all the water that must be applied to the straw. Sheet mulching keeps moisture in the beds as well as keeping the temperature internally cool. In the high desert, I can’t tell you how quickly things dry out here.
Today we were able to get all the manure laid, which marks the area of each bed. All together in this quadrant, we have 860 square feet of growing space. I didn’t count all the walking paths in between though.
We ordered 30 bales of straw which should make all the raised beds over 6 inches high. I didn’t include the square feet of three butterfly gardens that will also be located in that area, simply because they won’t be producing food…okay, well it will produce food for butterflies, bees and humming birds, but you get the point right?
When we get all the beds laid this weekend, I’ll post more photos.
Make sure you TEST your straw before you use it in the garden:
We built some “hugels” out of branches and whatever old stuff about a year and half ago and it sure takes a long time to decompose in the desert. The wood chips in the dirt that was heavily watered disappeared in just one summer, but without a lot of water it takes forever.
Thanks for the link. We’ve been using the same company for over a year and have never had a problem with pesticides damaging seedlings. I will keep an eye on things now. The straw we get is usually not seed free, so we always get barley or some sort of grain growing.
We planted large dead trees in our swales which has been a life saver for everything planted. It’s amazing how a buried wood holds onto water.
We purchased wood mulch last year for all our perennials and the sun really bleached everything out. It was such a beautiful dark brown last year…now its grey. LOL