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Gardens on the Go - Organic Horticulture

Building a Garden Bed

Have you ever noticed that the best plants in the garden are growing in the compost pile? A sheet mulched bed will provide you with a lot of the same benefits, and will keep getting better and better every year! Here is how you do it. 

First of all, get some unfinished compost. It can be from your compost pile, or some partially aged manure and bedding, Spread at least a 3 inch deep layer down on the ground. Yes, right on top of the ground. It can be on top of grass, weeds, or bare soil. Do not dig anything. Next, you will need at least 6 sheets of newspaper to keep weeds from coming through. You can also use cardboard if you are using transplants, but stick to newspaper if you are using seeds. Lay the newspaper or cardboard down on top of the unfinished compost. The next layer can be any type of organic matter. I like seaweed for this layer a lot, but you could also use leaves if they are not too hard to break down. Alternate green layers such as pulled green weeds (without seed heads or large tap roots) or grass clippings with brown layers such as wood chips, or shredded newspaper in thin layers. Water the whole thing down with EM, (check the web store for more information) kelp, and fish hydrolosate. Do as many layers as you have materials. Finish with a layer of compost about 2-3 inches thick and VOILA! your garden bed is finished and you can plant in it. If you have used cardboard and you are going to plant transplants into it, cut the cardboard with a razor knife and put your plants in. Seed like you would any bed, the roots will grow through the paper. After planting, you may want to mulch immediately with shredded leaves or seaweed, or you may want to wait until the seedlings have emerged. 

 If you are planting shrubs or trees dig the holes first. Remember to dig a $10 hole for a $5 plant. Loosen up the soil around the plants, and remove as much soil as possible from the root ball. Mix this soil with the surrounding soil then plant the shrub or tree at the same level it was in the pot. Next put the unfinished compost down, then put the cardboard down. Continue as above, with layers of "brown" and "green" mulch. With this bed you can skip the finished compost layer, although it never hurts. Don't leave a compost layer on top or you will lose some of the nutrients. Your top layer should always be mulch. I eat a lot of fish and often bury the bones and heads deep under my trees. They seem to like fish as much as I do.  

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions!

Happy Garden Building!