How to plant into a kill mulch
I get a lot of questions
from folks asking when to take apart a kill
mulch and how to plant into it. In general, I like to lay down
kill mulches that will rot in place and never be messed with again, but
now and then I make more temporary
As an example of a
temporary kill mulch, I laid down sheets of cardboard covered by straw
to kill the last of the ryegrass about six weeks ago, and now
I want to plant rye
there to keep growing biomass over the winter. So I simply
scooped up the straw and moved it to another part of the vegetable
garden, then peeled back the partially rotted cardboard, which I piled
up to make a more permanent kill mulch expanding a peach bed. The
grass underneath was all dead but only partially decomposed, so I raked
it to the edge of the bed to keep rotting before scattering rye seeds
on top of the damp soil.
If you don't have a
reason to direct-seed into a young kill mulch,
though, you'll get more biomass into the soil by leaving the cardboard
in place. During a damp, warm summer, cardboard completely
disappears in a few months, and a cold, wet winter will do the same
job, if more slowly. (Counterintuitively, newspaper rots less
quickly, but even it will dissipate in a few summer months.) Then
you can simply rake the straw to the edge of the bed for later if
you're going to be scattering seeds, or open up a small hole for
transplanting tomatoes or garlic bulbs. Instant no-till garden!
Our chicken waterer never spills in coops or tractors.
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