Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Preparations for Sheet Mulching

Jai Sai Master !

Sheet Mulching is one of the practices that is followed in permaculture. Essentially permaculture involves methods and practices which aim to mimic nature. For example you would not find rows of and rows of rice or the same vegetable growing all by itself in nature. A plant is not just an object being made in factory lines. When a plant emerges from the ground, it tries to 'create' conditions favourable for it and for its progeny, right from the soil to the animals there. On the same lines, soil would only allow certain types of plants to grow in it. Similarly animals ..

The point is that nothing is isolated in nature. We might see things separately and individually but for the nature its just one big continuum. Natures sees the 'whole' and not just the parts.

The aim in sheet mulching is to prevent digging and upturning the soil. And there is a reason for it. There are cycles in nature, viz. soil cycle, water cycle etc etc. The organisms in the soil are tuned to them. Whenever we disturb these cycles, the localized conditions get disrupted and the benefits already established are lost.

So instead of upturning the soil, a layer of paper or cardboard is put onto the land. This layer prevents sunlight from reaching the weeds and other unwanted plants. And hence this layer is also called weed barrier. This prevents their further growth and in time, they (both the weeds and the cardboard or paper) decompose to give valuable nutrients to the soil.

Secondly, we put a layer of useful soil onto the top of paper layer. There are many different ways of doing it. You can find various interpretations of it by different permaculturists. What we have done is that we mix 2 loads of red soil, with 2 loads of coco peat, 2 loads of manure, 1 load of sand and a handful of vermicompost. This layer covers the paper layer. The height of this layer depends on what one wants to grow and the nature of the land below the paper/cardboard layer. Usually a height upwards of 10 inches should be good enough if the land below was also treated similarly.

A few good links regarding sheet mulching:

1. http://www.agroforestry.net/pubs/Sheet_Mulching.html
2. http://www.chelseagreen.com/content/9-simple-steps-to-sheet-mulching/

Video: Coming soon :)

Jai Sai Master !

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