Sheet Mulch Bed

Sheet Mulch Bed Principles
The Transition Town Sturminster Newton Permaculture Group will be employing Sheet Mulch techniques to create fertile soil to improve areas of the Exchange site. The site currently has very little soil and is mostly barren builders rubble so in many way this will be a new journey for all of us. Most sites have different needs and we will respond to these using the favourite Permaculture pass time of OBSERVATION then plan the next step accordingly.

Overview
Sheet mulching saves a great deal of labour and uses materials that are normally considered waste and often buried in land fill. The technique also suppresses all existing weeds so there is no need for back-breaking site clearance. The end result will produce an excellent fertile soil. There is no precisely right or wrong way to sheet mulch and the exact recipe will be determined by what material are locally available and site conditions.

Step 1 It is often not necessary to clear or level your chosen patch, however as the Exchange site is very rocky we will remove the worst of the rubble. Any large weeds can be cut down and left under the sheet mulch to biodegrade.

Step 2 Dress the area with nitrogen rich material; poultry manure, blood and bone, vegetable scraps, etc.. This will start the process of reducing the carbon in the subsequent layers.

Step 3 Cover the entire area with several layers of sheet mulch material, depending on how much weed suppression is required. Cardboard is an ideal material and readily available (make sure to remove all plastic tape and labels first). Thoroughly soak the mulch material with water.

Step 4 Add at least 75mm of rich manurial material:-

  • Horse stable straw
  • Poultry Manure in sawdust
  • Leaf mould
  • Compost

Follow this with at least 150mm top dressing:-

  • Pine Needles
  • Bark Chipping
  • Wood Chipping – You often find large piles of this where tree surgery has taken place
  • Sawdust or shavings
  • Leaf mould
  • Straw

Step 5 Finish off by watering until fairly well soaked. 225mm of cover over the sheet mulch is an absolute minimum. For the exchange site, as we are working on builders rubble rather that existing soil we intend to use a thicker layer.

If you would like to learn more about permaculture and how to easily grow your own food why not join our group and get involved with the Exchange Project. We are planning 2 work days in March when we will be constructing the sheet mulch beds. Check this site of details of these upcoming events.

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