We’ve talked some about closing loops at home, composting and structural patterns. Last week, I also shared the assignment that is due tomorrow for my upper-elementary nature-based science class, which was to come up with a design project that can be a fort or a garden or any other achievable outdoor building task and to describe their project in terms of: 

  1. Goals to be achieved, 
  2. Resources to be used, and 
  3. An Action Plan for completing the project. 

Today, I’m going to describe my design project: preparing a sheet-mulched raised-bed for planting. 

My goals for this project are to: (1) grow more of the food we eat, (2) provide a demonstration garden for our students, (3) obtain a yield from all of our kitchen scraps, and (4) build soil in and around the bed by bringing life to the soil! 

The resources I used included: (1) fresh kitchen scraps, (2) buried kitchen scraps, (3) night crawler earthworms, (4) native soil, (5) leaves and sawdust from where I chainsaw our fire wood and (6) sheets of cardboard.

The general guidelines I use for sheet mulching (AKA Lasagna gardening) are to start with a layer of cardboard followed by alternating 2-inch layers of “green” materials and 4-inch layers of brown materials topped off with 4 inches of top soil to achieve a two-foot pile.

Green Material: manure, grass clippings, plant-based vegetable scraps, weeds, basically manure and any green plant materials

Brown Material: straw and hay, fallen leaves and pine needles, shredded paper, cardboard, wood chips, sawdust, twigs and bark

This is a very general recipe that I modified a lot for my circumstances as you’ll see. The pictures below illustrate most of my specific action plan: (1) assembled raised-bed, (2) used u-shaped nails to attach hardware cloth to the bottom of the bed (3) laid down first brown layer of cardboard and wet that layer, (4) added green layer of fresh kitchen scraps, (5) added layer of previously buried compost, (6) added layer of native top soil, (7) buried 50 night crawlers (8) added final brown layer of sawdust and black oak leaves, (9) wet down mulch, (10) cover bed to keep it warm due to impending snow.

I hope some of this is useful to y’all. As usual, please post questions, suggestions and comments below.

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