Sheet mulching in 6 steps

In November I did some sheet mulching on one of the beds of my garden. The mulching procedure was inspired by the book Gaia’s garden.

The material used for the mulching:

  • organic matter
  • cow manure
  • cartoon
  • straw

Step 1: Cut all the vegetation and leave all the organic matter on the ground. In my case the bed there was nothing covering the soil, so I put some fern on the ground.

Step 2: Add cow manure. You could use any kind of manure or the compost, just make sure you spread it well and that the layer is not too thick.

Step 3: Add a layer of cardboard without any tape or staples and afterwards wet it abundantly or, even better, soak it in the water before.

Step 4: Add another layer of cow manure.

Step 5: Add straw. I divided the bales into several plies and then put two layers of them on the bed. Once the straw is on the bed water abundantly.

Step 6: On the top put another layer of organic matter; I put the mixture of fresh and dry fern. Even better option is to put extra layer of compost first and then some dry organic matter like straw or wood shavings.

I recommend you to…

+ Gather enough material for the area you want to mulch. It is preferable to mulch a smaller area with thick layer than the other way round.

+ Pick the organic material without seeds. You can see on the last photo from January that there is already some wheat growing, which is good only in case you want to grow wheat in your garden.

+ The best timing to do the mulching is in autumn so the material is decomposing throughout the winter and the mulch is ready for seeding till spring.

Interesting links:

– Website of the author of Gaia’s garden: http://www.patternliteracy.com

Wwoofing

I’ve started a new experience! I became a Wwoofer and found my way to Portuguese farms. I will be one week working at the farm in Alentejo. It is called Herdade do Freixo do Meio and it is a huge farm with around 650 hectares of land.

Next week I will be going to Quinta do Luzio in Sintra and enjoy in warm weather at the Atlantic coast.

Let the  adventure begin!

Interesting links:

Wwoofing in Portugal: http://www.wwoof.pt/

Just soil

I’ve used the cold and rainy days to prepare the soil for the spring and making compost. I could say that during the winter it was all about soil. And acorns, but that’s another story.

In few months the plants will tell if my studies and work are well done.

Words of the president

I’ve found an interview with José Mujica, the president of Uruguay, and I would like to share it with you. It is astonishing and relieving to know that nowadays it is actually possible that someone so down to earth can be a president of a country.

[EN: Interview with José Mujica]

Here are some of the quotes I find important but in the interview you can get to know more about his life and work, Latin America’s reality and he also addresses themes of drugs, religion and Church, social responsibility, consumption and the presidential function.

My definition of poor are those who need too much. Because those who need too much are never satisfied.

Freedom is having time to live.

I don’t think that there are good drugs or that marijuana is good. Nor are cigarettes. No addiction is good. I include alcohol. The only good addiction is love. Forget everything else.

I am not against consumption, I am against waste.

If the current world population aspired to consume like the average North American we would need three planets Earth.

We complain about global warming while we assault nature by producing so much waste. We are mortgaging the future of the next generations.

And last but not least, some thoughts on how to live happily:

To live in accordance with how one thinks.

To talk to the man you carry inside. It is the companion we carry to the grave.

Be yourself and don’t try to impose your criteria on the rest.

I am becoming a big farmer.

Big farmer

A true story. In the second month of my work in the community garden my cultivation area has doubled. Since my first piece of land has been already full but I really wished to have some peas at my garden, I have decided to take advantage of unused space of the community garden and started to work on a new plot in October. 

Peas everywhere

Before seeding peas

Before seeding peas

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the middle of October it was already a bit late to seed peas, but I did it anyway. One of the reasons for this is that my goal is not to eat fresh peas in December, but to have some plants from a legume family which enrich the soil with nitrogen. This happens through the nitrogen fixation process, which is described well on Wikipedia:

They contain symbiotic bacteria called Rhizobia within nodules in their root systems, producing nitrogen compounds that help the plant to grow and compete with other plants. When the plant dies, the fixed nitrogen is released, making it available to other plants and this helps to fertilize the soil.

DSCF6235

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second reason to seed peas in October is simply curiosity. I just wanted to experiment how the peas will grow in this season and how much they will grow. In order to have more diverse experiment I covered two parts of the plot with fern and left one without.

Peas and white clover

Peas and white clover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Together with peas I have also seeded white clover which also belongs to the legume family among peas. Peas were seeded in lines and white clover all over the plot to cover the soil. In eight days first plants sprouted up.

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When the peas grew 10 cm high I put some sticks as a support to climb. I only put sticks in one part of the plot to see how the ones without any support will grow. According to the old ladies that sold me the seeds at the market this variety of peas doesn’t need any support to grow. We will see!

Little peas learning to climb

Little peas learning to climb

Interesting links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrogen_fixation