Clearing new ground for a vegetable garden is back-breaking, time-consuming work -- and it's totally avoidable. Not because you can sweet talk your significant other or older kids into doing it for you, but because you can put a little composting trick to work and be planting your peppers and tomatoes without breaking a sweat. A newspaper lining is key to a weed-free raised vegetable bed created with sheet mulching.
1 Sort through the sections of newspaper, removing glossy advertising sections and inserts. Place these in the recycling bin. Most newspapers are printed with soy- or water-based inks that are nontoxic and safe for including in an edible garden. Glossy inserts are occasionally still printed with inks that include heavy metals.
2 Divide the remaining sheets of newsprint into stacks of six to 10 sheets. They are easier to handle if they are folded to show one full page, rather than open to two pages.
3 Lay your first stack of newspaper in one corner of your raised bed. Place it right on top of the grass -- if applicable -- so the paper reaches 6 inches up the edges of the sides of the raised bed on the two sides that it touches. Crease the paper where it meets the ground at the edges so it stays in place.
4 Spread stacks of newspaper across the entire interior of the raised bed, overlapping each edge and the frame of the box by 6 inches.
5 Spray the layer of newspapers lightly with a garden hose until the paper is consistently damp. No grass, other vegetation or soil should be visible across the inside of the raised bed.
Items you will need
- Once the newspaper is spread, you can fill the box with alternating layers of compost, composted manure and topsoil, or with several layers of shredded leaves, kitchen scraps, grass clippings and other composting materials before topping it with finished compost and topsoil. In either case, you can plant immediately. By the time the roots reach the newspaper layer, it and the grass below will have started to deteriorate.
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