The best way to mulch an organic garden
How to keep weeds down and pests out
What's the best way to mulch an organic garden to keep weeds down and insect pests out? Old woollen carpets work well for a few years, with little holes cut in them for the plants. But eventually they rot, become an eyesore and are a nuisance to dispose of.
Solution: Yeoman's Organic Glop (YOG)! It's a degradeable mulch of wondrous versatility. It's free, easy to make, and totally organic.
Start with wallpaper paste
First, I soak sheets of newspaper overnight in wallpaper paste. (The manufacturers tell me there is nothing in it to harm a plant or person, except a little chemical fungicide. If this worried me, I would use flour and water paste.)
Second, I pull the grossest weeds from my vegetable plot, rake and flatten the surface. I lay the soaked sheets on the soil, ensuring large overlaps. I then leave them to dry for 48 hours and wander off to make some comfrey tea..
Lay the YOG several sheets thick
Cut flaps in the YOG for transplants
A little rain will not hurt a well-pasted YOG. In fair weather, the YOG quickly dries to a crisp carapace through which no weed dare grow.
I cut flaps in the YOG and sink in my transplants, grown elsewhere under glass. Let's say I'm planting broccoli. I fold back the flaps so not a weed can emerge nor cabbage root fly descend.
I then take a cordless drill with a half-inch bit and I drill copious holes in the YOG between the main crops. (How else, authentically, can you 'drill' seeds?)
Into these holes I push wet spindled SeedTape containing the seeds of spring onions, Little Gem dwarf lettuces, rocket (aragula), miner's lettuce, corn salad, land cress and the like. (See below, for the versatile joys of SeedTape.)
I create artistic patterns. Perhaps a picket of spring onions around each Lolla rossa lettuce? Or a miner's lettuce plant encircled by radishes?
I make sure every spindle is thrust an inch into the underlying soil.
SeedTape is a snap
My catch-crops like rocket (aragula) will be ready to harvest before the broccoli shades them. And such intercrops as miner's lettuce, which grow more slowly, will not mind a modest shade.
I then keep all plants and seeds well watered. I am rewarded a few weeks later with a super-intensive bed of vegetables laid out with the precision of an Astrakhan carpet - and not a weed to be seen.
Of course, I had made my own seed tape weeks before.
I had marked a sheet of kitchen paper into two inch squares, brushed flour and water paste onto the sheet, and dropped a couple of seeds into each square.
On top went another sheet. I dried the double-sheet and cut it into squares. Now I could spindle it for the YOG, or simply sow the seed tape in conventional beds - by laying squares on the soil covered with a sprinkling of damp compost.
YOG disappears in fall
To sow this way is a snap, compared with the nonsense of sprinkling small seeds, mixed with fine sand, in trenches - and watching the wind blow away whatever the birds don't eat. In fall, the YOG rots away harmlessly into the soil.
Use SeedTape together with YOG and you have attained the ultimate in low-maintenance organic vegetable gardening.