A few weeks ago (Oct. 19, to be precise), I visited my City of Montreal community garden plot to get it ready for winter.
I had procrastinated for so long the garden was choked with weeds. The city rules are strict – no weeds in garden beds or in the alleys between gardeners’ plots. The herbs were overgrown and crowding one another. Grass had made its way into the beds.
I was tired of weeding. I had planned earlier in the year to use “lasagna gardening” (sheet mulching) for the whole garden bed but never got around to it. It offers a way to stop the weeds while improving the soil at the same time. And it’s a no-dig method, very appealing to anyone with back problems.
The idea is you cover the entire garden bed with newspaper or cardboard or butcher-type paper. The paper needs to be clean (cleanish) and thick enough you can layer it over the soil or even put it over grass and weeds. I used piles of newspaper, cardboard boxes and plain brown “landscaping” paper that came with packages ordered from Lee Valley Tools. Usually you wet the paper first (I didn’t because the soil was already wet). Then you add layers of gardening materials. I used shredded paper, store-bought soil with compost mixed in, peat moss and coconut mulch. Over the winter the worms and the microorganisms will break down the layers and blend them together. By next spring I should have a garden bed that needs no digging out or tilling. I’ll be able to plant right away. The paper at the bottom should keep the weeds at bay for a little while anyway.
As you can see in the photo, it takes quite a bit of material to cover everything. In the end, I covered the soil to the best of my ability but some newspaper still poked out. From my experience I know it’s going to disappear.
On Sunday (Oct. 30) I went back to see how the garden was doing, harvest some herbs and say goodbye till next year. The marigolds are withering, the lemongrass plant dried out, the herbs frostbitten. But you can’t see the newspaper so much anymore.