When I taught my recent Urban Homesteading class, I didn’t charge a fee. Instead, I requested that students bring me old newspapers. I’m sure many of them thought I was crazy. Yeah, crazy smart.
For behold, I have used them to expand my vegetable garden with sheet mulch!
My garden before the great sheet mulch expansion of 2013:
But my round vegetable garden is filling up. I found myself echoing the cry of gardeners everywhere, “I need more SPACE!” So I dunked that newspaper in a bucket of water and slapped whole sections down over the grass, making sure the paper overlapped so no light would get through. I topped it off with three bales of straw, which made it about 5″ thick over the newspaper.
It’s still a bit cold here to plant out tomatoes, and definitely too cool for peppers. So the mulch bed gets a couple of weeks to moulder before I plant it.
Normally I would sheet mulch in fall and let the bed settle over winter. The grass would be dead by spring and the bed ready to plant. In fact, that’s how I made the original round vegetable bed.
But it’s possible to plant a bed like this immediately after construction. I’ll shove mulch aside, cut an X in the paper, then dig out a hole. I’ll fill the hole with compost and plant my tomatoes and peppers, then scoot the mulch close to (but not touching) the plants.
Best of all, there’s no scraping off sod, tilling, or (god forbid) double digging. Sheet mulch is the smart gardener’s route to great beds with minimal effort. So start saving that newspaper, people. It’s worth its weight in compost.