The garden is officially closed for the season.
Season 1 was a success! Thanks to the hard work of all our members we took all the bumps along the way and learned a ton from them. We are heading towards next season with optimism and a whole new (metaphorical) tool belt for community gardening!
Our final act together this season was our final workday last Saturday when we sheet mulched ALL of the beds!
Sheet Mulching is a method of spreading organic matter over the soil and allowing it to compost where it sits. Waiting several weeks or months allows it to decompose, saving time tiling the beds in the spring. When starting a sheet mulching project with students, we refer to it as making "soil lasagna." A sheet-composted garden prevents weeds from growing (by blocking out light), provides rich organic soil (by adding compost and organic material) and saves time (by letting the lasagna do the work). Overall there is less digging, less weeding, and a rich soil full of earthworms.
- Cardboard and newspaper serve as a carbon input and are beneficial by blocking out sunlight and killing existing weeds or grass. The cardboard also provides a moist, dark habitat for worms. Worms and their eggs can live in the soil for years waiting for the right moisture, food, and habitat to begin its lifecycle again.
- Compost is necessary to provide the right amount of "green" or nitrogen to your soil. you can use green material, such as kitchen waste, manures (fresh or old) and green grass. Green materials provide nitrogen that enables microorganisms to develop bodies, which are necessary to digest the carbon source. (Do not use meet or dairy products as part of your compost, as they can encourage disease and pests.)
- Mulch is your "brown" vegetation including dry grass and weeds, leaves straw, hay, dry compost crops, even woody material. Dry "brown" materials provide carbon that serves as an energy source for all life forms
At OKCG this year we used cardboard, leaves, and horse manure. We also included a little experiment: Half of the plots we laid down cardboard as the first layer, in the other half of the plots we skipped the cardboard altogether and just applied a layer of manure and then leaves. We will be checking in the spring to see what the differences are and which method we prefer better for different situations.