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The best way to mulch an organic garden

Updated on September 13, 2010
YOG is easy to make, easy to lay
YOG is easy to make, easy to lay

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

Colouring the YOG green with a degradable dye is nice but optional
Colouring the YOG green with a degradable dye is nice but optional

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?)

Introducing SeedTape

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.

The mulch vanishes harmlessly at year end
The mulch vanishes harmlessly at year end

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.

Free ebook offers practical gardening tips

For a wealth of further whacky-but-they-work gardening tips plus a free big 6000-word ebook Lazy Secrets for Natural Gardening Success, go to: http://www.gardeningguild.org/ideas

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    • John Yeoman profile imageAUTHOR

      John Yeoman 

      8 years ago from Story writing land in the centre of England

      Thanks! Amazingly, the ideas work. Just don't try Yog with potatoes. They push through it regardless!

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 

      8 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      I liked this! Well written and easy to read. Well done. I love the seed tape Idea and will try it.

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