Monday, June 13, 2011

Soil Magic with Sandwich Composting

It might seem highly improbable that just a pile of cardboard, newspaper and grass clippings will magically turn into beautiful rich soil, but that is indeed what actually happens. I saw it with my very own eyes. In our quest to find more space to plant vegetables in our ever expanding garden, we did a trial sandwich composting project on the sunny, but weedy side of our house last October.
Now in spring, our simple compost sandwich has really turned out beautifully. This low-labor compost making method appealed to me instantly. I used  Chris McLaughlin's system as a guide:
• You don't have to pull up the weeds or other foliage first or dig the soil in anyway, just knock down any plants and leave them in place.
• Next you will add layers of flattened cardboard (about 2 inches thick), then
• Sheets of newspaper printed with soy-based ink (about 10 sheets thick)
• Add green materials such as grass clippings, plant material, or kitchen vegetable waste (about 4 inches worth, 2 inches if using grass clippings)
• Finish by covering with topsoil or compost
It is very important to sprinkle everything with water between layers, and adding topsoil or compost between layers helps speed up the process. Then leave it alone for a few months and let the de-composers go to work.

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