Why I don’t like cardboard mulch

I’ve discussed my dislike of cardboard mulch before: like other sheet mulches it restricts water and gas transfer between the soil and atmosphere. In published comparison studies, other mulch choices generally outperform cardboard in terms of plant growth, weed control, etc. But there’s one area where cardboard is tops compared to every other mulch material … Continue reading Why I don’t like cardboard mulch

The cardboard controversy

I’m not a fan of using corrugated cardboard as a mulch, which like other sheet mulches creates problems for the underlying soil. Long-time readers of this blog may remember several previous posts (1, 2, 3 and 4) on this topic and I won’t belabor the points made in those posts. Instead, today I’m doing to … Continue reading The cardboard controversy

Sheet mulching – benefit or barrier?

Alert reader Matt Wood pointed out a recent article in the NY Times on mulching with newspaper and wondered about my take on the topic. For use on landscapes, I do not like sheet mulches of any stripe.  They tend to hinder to air and water movement, most especially in unmanaged landscapes like restoration sites.  A classic … Continue reading Sheet mulching – benefit or barrier?

Permaculture – more concerns

One of the gardening topics I’ve researched extensively is the use of landscape mulches.  (You can read a literature review I did a few years ago here.)  So I was more than a little frustrated to see one of the worst mulching techniques – sheet mulching – extolled in the book Gaia’s Garden (pp. 85-90). … Continue reading Permaculture – more concerns

Tools, tips, and terrible traditions for raised beds – Part 2

Last month I started a series on raised bed gardens, focusing on materials and designs. Today I’ll mention some of my favorite tools and materials for putting everything together and getting ready to plant. Getting your soil ready for raised bed use Tools and materials: shovel, wheelbarrow, tarp, soil screens If you’ll recall from my … Continue reading Tools, tips, and terrible traditions for raised beds – Part 2

Soil or dirt? It’s really up to you

Dig up dirt. Treat like dirt. Dirt poor. Replace the word “dirt” with “soil” and you get phrases that make no sense. This is a roundabout way of explaining that “dirt” and “soil” are not the same things, either in idioms or in the garden. Yet many of us effectively turn our soils into dirt … Continue reading Soil or dirt? It’s really up to you

Garden potions and notions to avoid

It’s Halloween and terrifying things abound – particularly at garden centers. Below you’ll find a pictorial approach to four frightful follies. Enjoy – and keep your garden safe! Scary soaps. No. Not on your soil to aerate it. Not on your plants as part of some homemade devil’s brew. Soap stays in your house.   … Continue reading Garden potions and notions to avoid

Is “lasagna gardening” really worth the effort?

This week I got a complimentary copy of Urban Farm, dedicated to “sustainable city living.”  The cover story is Lasagna Giardino – follow this recipe for a lasagna garden that grows perfect plants – Italian or not. This is not a new idea, but was popularized several years ago as a way of preparing soil … Continue reading Is “lasagna gardening” really worth the effort?

How to get rid of your lawn

With increasing interest in reducing monocultural swaths of turf, summer water consumption, and the drudgery of mowing, many people are eliminating part or all of their lawns.  We did this at home some years ago and can attest to the tangible benefit of reduced water bills during our dry summer months. The question I often … Continue reading How to get rid of your lawn