Now I can't say I made up the Mulch Madness concept, but it perfectly describes our second gardening class by East Hill Edible Gardening. This was a hands-on class where they actually demonstrated their weed free, no till method.
First they have you lay a layer of cardboard down. You can lay it just over whatever ground is there. Any weeds or grass that is currently there will turn into 'organic matter' which is basically nutrition for your garden. Get regular corrugated cardboard that is thick and preferably without much ink or writing. Be sure to overlap any seams by about 6 inches so those pesky weeds can't grow through! To help minimize seams and save time get large boxes such as appliance or furniture boxes.
Then you add a thick layer of hay about 4 to 6 inches when compressed down. Make sure you get hay and not straw. Hay is fresh and green whereas straw is brown and dried. The store may want to point you in the direction of straw because hay has a bunch of seeds, but hay seeds don't have enough energy to sprout in your mulched garden. They can sprout in your grass, however so be sure you are careful upon transport! Straw, on the other hand, has fewer seeds, but they go crazy and your garden will look like grass rather than an garden.
|Hay. Notice the greener color and smaller stalks.|
|Straw. Notice the browner color and thicker woody stalks|
To plant push the hay around to create a hole. Cut out the cardboard bottom and place about four heaping hand fulls of mushroom compost in the new hole. They sell mushroom compost at hardware stores, but it is not the same as getting it in bulk from a nursery.
Finally after you place your plant put a barrier around it to protect it from rolly polly bugs and other pests! You want to protect your plant until it is strong enough to ward off the insect so about when it has doubled in size.
After that you just make sure the garden has enough water and you pull any stray weeds that emerge.
There are a number of other things you can use for mulch particularly in pathways of your garden such as pine straw, wood chips, and leaves. We will be getting our garden set up soon and I'll be sure to take pictures of it!
Update: Don't forget to check out what we learned about garden placement from the first class and how we got started.
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