Growth is a double edged sword. Unchecked, growth can be cancerous and destructive. It is this type of ceaseless expansion that has put our society into the precarious environmental and financial positions in which we currently find ourselves. On the other hand, growth can be regenerative and life-giving. Following a forest fire or a bitter winter, the first green shoots to emerge from the earth bear witness to the earth's ability to restore life in the wake of disaster.

My goal for this blog is pretty simple and open-ended: I want to document and share with family and friends my efforts to incorporate an ever increasing degree of self sufficiency, voluntary simplicity, and environmentally-conscious design into my life as a would be urban homesteader.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Playing in the dirt again

The high temps are flirting with 60 degrees this weekend, so finally I can get back out in the garden. I'm experimenting with using newspaper as a weed barrier this year. I tried it last summer in the tomato bed with a fair amount of success, so we'll see how it works on a larger scale.

I loosely spaded the bed to break up and aerate the soil up a bit. Next I added a couple of inches of compost on the surface. I'm not a "No-till" purist, but I'd like to maintain the soil structure as best I can. That's why I was happy to find a Big Lil' Hoe tiller on Craigslist for cheap last August. It lets me work up the top few inches and mix in compost and manure without digging down too deep.
After a couple of passes, I laid down newspaper 3-4 layers thick. I got it wet as I went to prevent it from blowing away.Once I was done, I put some straw over the top. This will keep the newspaper in place, help retain moisture, and makes it look a little nicer. At this point, I can plant seeds by clearing away a little of the straw and poking holes in the newspaper. Later on, I'll be able to transplant seedlings the same way.
You could use weed cloth or plastic ( I've tried both), but the cloth is kinda pricey, and I hate throwing away all of that plastic at the end of the season. Not only are old newspapers environmentally friendly, but they're free - my favorite price range. Hopefully this works out as well as it did last year.

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