The No-Work Garden Bed

on May 21, 2014
Gardening Tips

Some insist that gardening is work. This is nonsense; gardening is a pastime, an escape, a hobby, and an art form. The work lies in spring tilling and summer weeding, so we eliminated those chores years ago. Heres how.

To create a new garden bed, spread out four to six sheets of newspaper over soil or a newly mown patch of lawn wherever you want the garden. Wet it down thoroughly, then spread more paper until the garden is the size you like. (Dont do this on a windy day, lest the paper blow away before you can wet it.) Atop the newsprint, put down a few inches of leaves, grass clippings, rotted manure, peat moss, or other organic matter. Wet this down also, until you have a sodden mess. On top of this, spread an inch or two of compost or topsoil. Now what you have is a garden ready for planting with seeds or live plants.

The wet newspaper makes perfect habitat for earthworms, which should arrive and multiply within weeks. They till up and aerate the sod with their endless tunneling, have babies, digest leaves and grass, and leave behind their fertile castings which leave you with the most fertile little garden you can imagine. All of this occurs while youre taking a nap or making blueberry pancakes. The newspaper decomposes innocently but not before smothering out grass and weeds below, and the organic matter you added acts like a sponge to retain soil moisture during dry spells. Youll rarely have to water and will have few, if any, weed problems.

To further eliminate weeds, and trap soil moisture, mulch all summer with grass clippings or leaf mold (decomposing tree leaves) spreading these between plants or seeded rows. Mulch should be deep enough to block sunlight and keep weed seeds from germinating. Grass and dead leaves also decompose quickly and give growing plants a good shot of nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

One could cultivate every few days, of course, and pull errant weeds by hand, but this strikes me as work.

Found in: Gardening
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