So last year I began experimenting with sheet mulching and had very high hopes. Now, 6 months later I am reporting back. Unfortunately it is with mixed results. The partial success is that the sod is, in fact, dead. The partial failure lies in the fact that the mulch material is not decomposed-or at best only partially. That was last week and I found it frustrating, but it got sidetracked as I began Orchard Prep in full force.
But tonight I spent the final hours before sundown after work preparing about 100 sq feet of soil that I had pulled the sod off this weekend. For some reason that fact that I hadn’t seen a single worm finally sunk in. Let me say that again-in turning 100 sq ft of lawn-organic lawn-to a depth of about 8″ I did not turn over a single worm. My conclusion, based solely on anecdotal evidence without soil tests, is that my soils are as dead as I had once feared. This is why the sheet mulch is just sitting there-one needs decomposers to decompose coffee grounds and cardboard. This lawn has been there for almost 3 years now, but our subdivison, like most, had its soil stripped off and sold, and then post construction had hundreds of yards of backfill trucked back in-in our case it was quarry waste: a stable and cheap mix of sand, clay, and stones. That backfill came from a subsoil or lower level in the soil strata-a strata dead to the soil ecosystem.
Into that layer-with a thin veneer of topsoil (2-3″) crushed to oblivion by my spreading it with a skid steer- I am trying to create my Eden. I recently wrote about inoculating the soil with benifical fungus, but this goes deeper. I need to literally rebuild the entire soil ecosystem. Luckily I am not treading on virgin soil as it were-my trusty texts on Edible Forest Gardening speak of technique to do just that. The long and short of it is that I will be taking some 5 gallon buckets to nearby woods-as old growth as I can find-and scoop out some soil to mix into my orchard plantings. This is a broad base inoculation that will hopefully start to cover the gamut of bacteria, fungus, nematodes, and critters that I need to balance (or in this case create) my soil ecosystem. There is an abandoned farm about a mile from here with standing timber-I plan on making a foray next week to make some very significant progress on righting the wrongs of my site.
Be the Change!