Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sheet Composting- a description

Sheet composting is a no-till method of gardening that smothers weeds, mulches the growing area, retains healthy soil structure and fertilizes all in one go.  Some people refer to it as Lasagna Gardening because it is built like a giant lasagna, one layer at a time.

Sheet composting in my own backyard.  Photo courtesy of my sister.

Essentially, you lay down thick layers of organic materials and let Mama Nature (worms, insects and beneficial soil microbes and fungi) do all the work of composting.

No turning.  No hauling the finished compost.

It simply sits in place and feeds the soil, which in turn feeds the plants.  Worms that are already present in the soil are drawn to the area and function like tiny, but effective, rototillers, mixing in the compost.  As they eat their way through the soil, they inoculate it with the beneficial microbes that live in their digestive system.  These microbes help the soil hold together, creating a necessary soil characteristic known as tilth.  Worm movement also opens up little channels through which water and oxygen can move.  This system provides lots of food for the worms, so their numbers increase rapidly.

In a way, you can think of gardening as worm farming.  The more worms, the healthier the soil.  And the healthier the soil, the stronger the plants.

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