Pretty cool zine I just came across although its not new. 47209356-farmzine.pdf
Thanks for the document @polylith. I'm also at 45 north. This fall I did plant mostly cover crop mix and mulch with leaves over the top of small beds I dug this spring. There's not enough leaves to mulch all the potential new garden bed area though.
I do have cardboard down in small areas, but that's using all our cardboard. It seems to be working fine for killing the grass, but it's super obnoxious to keep in place with the really strong winds we have, and the pieces are maybe only 2' x 3'. It hasn't made me eager to go on more cardboard gathering missions. So the silage tarp looked like a nice idea because it seems easier to hold down.
I'm still considering the option to truck in yards of manure or compost for sheet mulching. A philosophical hesitation is dependence on big machinery to grow a small garden. A practical hesitation is no vehicle can get to the garden area so all manure is moved via wheelbarrow. I'm willing to sacrifice immediate maximum productivity/fertility, if I can get that built up over a few seasons using cover crops, and onsite generated compost.
In light of how slow digging beds in rocky soil is with hand tools, I'm wondering if buying a small roll of silage tarp could be somewhat of a compromise in between human labor only vs all the fuel and machinery involved with getting multiple yards of amendments.
I do have a chicken flock that multiplied itself from 4 to ~40-50+ (7 clutches hatched from 3 hens, woah), and let them in to clean up the garden and was throwing their feed in the beds for a few months to encourage them to eat/scratch/poop in there, before planting the cover crop seeds and putting in leaves. And I am using the deep litter technique in their coop (from book 'small scale poultry flock' btw), so at some point in the future that should begin generating compost.
Are silage tarps rather than sheet mulch w/cardboard only appropriate in the presence of super persistent weeds?
I've never considered that technique, but I'm definitely going to look it up now. As I'm getting started with gardening my grand dreams are meeting the harsh reality of limited physical capabilities. I've started with making beds by double digging. With the time I had available to work in the garden I was only able to get 3 roughly 30' beds dug. I'm not fit at all currently, but I'm young and have no injuries or physical limitations, so I imagine there's gardeners with less ability and more difficult soil who could prepare even less with human labor alone.
My ideal was to use nothing but hand tools and cover crop seeds to prepare the garden. Avoid expensive equipment and also avoid 'importing fertility thats taken away from somewhere else' aka bringing in anything by the cubic yard.
But I just don't think all those ideals are realistic so now I'm interested in less labor intensive ways to start bed with a little bit of compromise. I had been leaning towards mechanized fossil fuel solutions, like rototiller or other implement, but this occultation seems so much more pleasant and manageable and probably cheaper. I'm not in a rush.
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