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            1. Wednesday, August 28, 2013

              Organically Make a New Garden Bed

              Expanding or creating a new garden bed can be simple and quick if you use these quick easy steps.  You don’t need to dig up grass, spray weed killer, or break your back. This is a simple, organic, zero digging garden bed method!

              This is an update on a previous post titled No Dig Garden Bed Method.  I have tried a few more tricks and have found ways to speed up the process of getting garden beds ready for planting. I also have pictures from different beds using slightly different techniques over different time spans.

              Materials Needed:
              Newspapers (No Slicks) Black & White preferable
              Weed eater – if available
              Manure or Compost – enough for a depth of 1 minimum
              Mulch – enough for a depth of 1 to 2 inches
              Non Windy Day

              Cut Grass & Weed, No Need to Dig
              If available use a weed eater to cut the grass or weeds down to the ground.  Rake the debris in a pile away from your new bed (you can save and use in your compost pile).  If you don't have a weed eater, just rake your weeds flat and as many away as possible.  You the want the newspaper lay as flat as possible on the ground.
              Dig Free Garden Bed Method
              Use a garden hose to wet the area that will be your bed.  Now you are going to place newspaper in crisscross overlapping fashion over the entire area.  You want sections overlapping sections. Each section should be 10 or more pages thick.  You don’t have to count pages; you don’t even have to unfold them if you don’t want, just place them around in thick chunks. 
              Before you get too far, squirt some water on the freshly laid paper. If you happen to get a breeze the papers won’t blow away. Continue until you have covered your entire area with newspaper. Make sure the entire area is fully covered or you will have weeds pop through in that spot.
              If it looks like you have a Paper Mache flower bed you did a great job! This is your weed barrier and eventually the grass roots and weeds underneath will die. 
              Have you ever sat something on your lawn for too long and the grass and plants underneath died?  You are accomplishing the same thing with the newspaper, a free weed barrier and in many cases better than what you buy at the store.   You can do this around existing plants or shrubs if you wish.  Just realize that the grass will grow towards the hole left for the shrub and you will have some weeding to do.
              Organically Made Garden Bed at 3 months
              Next you are going to put down either compost or manure. What you choose to put down depends on what you may have on hand and what you want to plant in your bed. How much of it you put down depends on your time frame.  If you want to plant seeds or starts immediately then you are going to need to put down 3 to 4 inches of compost and pasteurized manure mix then top with 1 inch of mulch. Don’t mulch where you place your seed. 
              If you have a bit more time then you can get away with 1 to 2 inches of compost or manure and 1inch of mulch.  Of course if you can put more compost/manure mix in your bed the better your plants will be in the future.  Water your bed thoroughly after you have mulched.  Make sure to immediately pull any weeds that may appear.  The only weeds I have had were ones that jumped or went under my edging and are at the edge of the bed, making them quite easy to pull.
              Organic Garden Bed Method at 10 months
              The newspaper along with the manure/compost and mulch block all light and will kill any weeds or grass trapped below. The newspaper will gradually break down over the next 8 months to year with the manure mixing in leaving you a nice healthy bed to plant in.
              Pull weeds as they appear. You will likely see them hop your edging or surface just at the edge.  You shouldn't see any in your bed, unless you used this method around existing trees or shrubs.
              This method also works well to prevent weeds if you plan to build a raised bed.
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