Deep Mulch and preparing next years garden

December 30, 2016

Turning old compacted clay and grass into future food using the deep mulch method.

This is what we started with. Basically clay soil with grass on it.

Last year we prepped an area 25×25 feet for our garden space. We were in a rush so we took some shortcuts and didn’t get the best results. This year we are taking a little more time and attempting to turn an area that is 130×90 feet into our fully enclosed garden and mini orchard area. The goal is to produce all the calories we can from this area for our family and those families that already purchase our delicious Duck eggs and broiler Chickens.

All we had here this past year was the two raised beds with the goat panel trellis.

So this year we have started with laying down cardboard directly over the grass, a step we skipped last year. Doing this smothers the grass, kills it off and leaves all the biomass and nutrients in the grass in the soil. This will then feed worms and the fungal layer helping to speed the process of turning clay into soil.

 

Another view showing the overlap of cardboard to completely block out the grass from getting any sunlight.

By skipping the cardboard last year we ended up with some grass growing up into our beds and we had to weed quite a bit. This year we should have very little of that to worry about. Some of you might have heard of this method of prepping an area, it is commonly known as the Deep Mulch Method. The basic idea is you never til the soil because doing so kills the fungal layer and compacts the soil over time. Instead you cover the soil with deep mulch and just add new wood mulch each year, you want to maintain 4-8 inches of mulch depending on your area. The layers should look something like this cardboard/compost/mulch. We do not have any compost ready this year as we were not here last year to get it going. So we will add compost when we plant in the spring. We do have plenty of leaf compost going from this fall. We will be adding some aged horse manure as well.

 

So this is how much we got done in one day. This was 5 truckloads of wood mulch and tons of cardboard. We got a long ways to go still.

We will be planting lots of perennials like asparagus and strawberries along with our annual gardens veggies. This area will also have about 20 fruit trees ranging from apples and peaches to paw paw and pears. So have you ever done anything like this before? Got any experience you want to share? Leave a comment below!