My daughter is mortified. Its a common ailment when you're 15. But I have gone above and beyond in my parental obligation to embarrass my teenage child.
I've discovered sheet mulch. Oh, I've tried it in the past but the Bermuda Grass always overtook my heavily mulched beds. But this year I have a new ally.
First, the photo.
This bed has potatoes planted in the first section. The middle is covered in plastic and warming up for cantaloupe. The last section is wide rows of hulless oats with mustard in between.
We cut the grass (read weeds) nice and short. Then put down a thick layer of cardboard, overlapping the edges so the grass was completely covered. Over that went a layer of straw and some compost.
Then I cut 18 inch strips of weed barrier cloth. We tucked these strips under the edge of the cardboard, weighted it down with bricks and then rolled the outer edges of the cloth over the bricks. In the places where the cloth was too narrow I just stacked another brick on top of the first one to keep the cloth rolled up and over the bricks. Here's a bed we just finished. Once all that mulch and compost is in place, hose the whole thing down to make it nice and wet.
You can see the edge on the left doesn't have any weed cloth. That's because we'll be widening it as soon as I find more cardboard. The cardboard and straw smother out the grass. The cardboard breaks down and the plants send their roots through all that mulch and into the ground. For transplants I have to cut a hole in the mulch, but all but the smallest seeds seem to be doing just fine.
Yes, its a great way to expand the garden with a minimum of effort, but what does all this have to do with embarrassing my teenager? Well, all that cardboard has to come from somewhere (insert evil laugh). I make my rounds, the grocery, the feed store, the auto parts store, sweetly asking the manager if they have boxes to spare. I ask everywhere I go. Once I even hit up the Potato Chip delivery guy right there in the parking lot. I thought my kid was going to DIE!
But once we got home and she began screening beautiful compost she could see the beauty of all that scrounging. In two afternoons we made that really long bed in the first photo. Now we have a big, beautiful garden. Plenty of room to plant those lovely seeds in anticipation of healthy, organic food to feed our souls as well as our bodies.