I am getting so excited about current permaculture recommendations. I have been watching YouTube videos from Morag Gamble with OurPermacultureLife.com and Geoff Lawton with the Permaculture Research Institute. I have already incorporated some new ideas. Morag showed how she starts a new garden bed—she layers wet newspapers toward the top of the pile instead of the bottom.
I have been revitalizing a back yard that has been nothing but a little bit of grass, but mostly weeds. There is a lot of knot weed and pig weed which I am slowly eradicating for more productive plots. There was a corner of the yard that had wild morning glory (bindweed), but I am getting ahead of that challenge. I’ll describe those methods in a separate post. I don’t think this technique would work for something as invasive as bindweed. For the new planting areas, I put down cardboard, layers of mulch, and some clean dirt. I have tried a couple of other techniques, but that is the main method. However, Morag had a video where she showed forking up the rough ground to loosen the subsoil, then layering on the richest materials like rotted manure, finished compost, or worm castings. Then she layers on unfinished compost fixings. On top of that goes chopped green mulch with things like coffee grounds or tea leaves. Then comes the thick layer of soaked newspapers, layered in a pattern that lets water come into the layers, instead of shedding off. On top of the newspapers is an attractive layer of mulch, such as straw or grass hay.
I just tried this method on a plot where I had previously tried the cardboard method. I was trying to do a wildflower lawn, but so much knot weed and pig weed came up from seed that I have been digging out patches and putting in perennial flowers and bunchgrasses. It is probably my imagination, but the newly-layered plot already appears more productive and useful. The hay-covered areas in the photos are the new method. The brown bark-covered plot is another way to start a no-dig garden where you cut open bags of topsoil and plant right into them, then mulch around the bags. It made a quick, instant garden, but I don't like having to buy dirt or the plastic it came in.
It's fun to try new things!