AND USING COMfOIT
Sheet composting just means working horizontally, spreading material in wide layers (sheets) over the ground. It's very simple; you let earthworms and soil microbes do the composting and mixing. No bins, no turning. Any nutrients that leach will be absorbed by the soil below for future plant use. It's a great way to start a new bed, especially in a lawn — you skip the hard work of digging and removing sod. It s also great for lucky people who have more material to compost than they can keep up with.
Start your sheet compost six months before you want to plant. For a spring garden, start in fall. If you start in spring you can plant by late summer (compost works faster in warmer weather). Use the same ingredients as for any other type of compost. With heavy soil, you may eventually wish to double-dig (see page 141) or build raised beds (see page 139). Either will be much easier after six months of sheet composting loosens your soil! (For metric equivalents, see "Useful Conversions" on page 208.)
► Wood chips or other attractive mulch for top layer
Mow existing plants as short as possible, leaving clippings. Cut off any woody plants at ground level and chop into small pieces. If clippings are sparse, sprinkle a dusting of another nitrogen source over area (manure, alfalfa meal, or fresh grass clippings). If your soil's usually acidic, sprinkle some limestone; substitute sulfur for very alkaline soils. Sprinkle some granite meal to ensure a micronutrient supply if you wish.
Spread a weed-smothering layer of newspapers (8 to 10 sheets thick) or cardboard over area. Overlap edges by 4 inches so no weeds can poke through. Dampen new* papers to make them easier to work with.
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