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Kill Mulch – A Simple Technique To Start a New Planting Space

March 2nd, 2008 · 4 Comments

Over the past few years I have come across many articles/books that discuss the importance of mirobial/bacteria/fungi activity in order to accomplish a healthy soil. They say in every handful of a healthy soil, there should be millions of cute little microbes that do the dirty work to make food readily available for our plants while aerating the soil as well. This topic of the “soil community” is quite interesting to me and I would love to write more about it as I learn more about it. But in this entry, I would like to share a technique I have learned that allows the soil community to stay in tact and flourish/populate while creating a new space for planting. Its called kill mulch and while it takes some prior planning and patience, it’s easy and worth the wait.

So you want to create a new space/plot for gardening?

You will need newspaper or cardboard and a whole bunch or mulch. I use wood chips from a neighbor who had a bunch of trees cut down, but you could use anything you like. All you do is lay out the newspaper over the grass you want to turn to soil, making sure to cover the area entirely and put a little bit of wood chips on each piece to hold it down from the wind. After you have laid out the plot, cover the newspaper entirely with as much mulch as necessary to smother the grass. Wait 6 months or so, loosen up the soil a bit, but don’t flip it over .  By flipping it over you would kill (pardon the pun) the whole point of the kill mulch – To aerate the soil and keep the soil community in tact, use a broadfork or a pitchfork or a kitchen fork – any fork will do ya =). Add some fresh compost and you are ready to plant. Easy huh?

Kill Mulch - Applied At Tail End of Winter I plan the upcoming year in fall as best as I can, but that is when I think about if there are any places I wish to apply this technique to. Come spring, I am ready to go.

My most recent inspiration for this entry was from a Mother Earth News article, Best Low-Tech Tools by Harvey Ussery (if you dont have Mother Earth News, get it, but tell them not to share your name.  They are VERY guilty of that and contribute to the madness of catalogs).

Harvey is my favorite author in Mother Earth News. I look forward to reading his articles every few months because he is in tune with nature and treats the land with respect. I want to be more like him. His talks about his homestead way of living at his website The Modern Homestead.

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Tags: Organic Gardening Techniques

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Crafty Gardener // Mar 2, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    I did this last fall in one area of my garden, and can’t wait to see the results once the snow has gone.

  • 2 Melanie // Mar 2, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    This is very similar to Lasagna gardening. Many books talk about putting down newspaper and then another product on top of it but “kill mulch” is a new term to me.

    When I do this I take a large plastic bucket with water and place it near where I’m working. I soak the newspapers in it first, they don’t fly away then and you have much more time to get your woodchips or compost on top.

  • 3 Brandon // Aug 19, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Great use for Newsday :-) I am definitely going to try this. I had a pile of old newspaper and cardboard sitting in my yard before I moved it. Once I moved it…i discovered the pile of fantastic rich soil beneath. It really seems to work!

  • 4 Ruth Stout’s System of Mulching - Lazy is Genius! | Long Island Gardening Community Resource Ruth Stout’s System of Mulching - Lazy is Genius! // May 26, 2009 at 4:30 am

    [...] of my lack of time to pull weeds (or general lack of success with weeding).  After I put the kill mulch technique to work, I bought 10 bales of straw from a local hay salesman and started mulching many of my [...]

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