The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Kill mulch renovates weedy garden beds

Weedy asparagus

Making a kill mulch

Raking the mulch off the asparagus beds in early spring and giving it to the chickens (combined with twice weekly bug picking early in the season) does seem to have knocked my asparagus beetle problem back.  Unfortunately, I neglected to deal with the bare soil, and by early May, little plantain and ragweed seedlings were popping up all over.  Not only does asparagus not like its roots to be disturbed, I found the idea of pulling each of those weeds very daunting.  What to do?

Asparagus bed

Make a kill mulch, of course!  I dealt with the weeds right around the base of each plant, layered small sheets of cardboard on the ground, and topped the kill layer off with compost and straw.

Three weeks later, the bed is still weed-free and the asparagus is thriving.  Kill mulches really are a great tool for the lazy gardener.  (Check out the May edition of Weekend Homesteader for more tips on kill mulches.)

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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What an interesting idea! I never would have thought of using a kill mulch around existing plants. I have always thought that once your desired plants are in place, you just have to weed by hand. Of course, it helps that the asparagus plants are fairly mature. If your vegetables were still coming up, the mulch would likely kill those as well.
Comment by David Thu May 26 13:16:02 2011
You're totally right --- it would be tough to put a kill mulch around baby seedlings. And I wouldn't plan on doing this instead of weeding most of the time. That would be a lot of cardboard and mulch. But it's a good trick to have in your arsenal if you let things get out of hand.
Comment by anna Thu May 26 13:19:21 2011

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