If you don’t read this whole post, please scroll to the bottom and check out the questions. I’d love to have peoples opinions and input.
I have been trying to figure out the best way to start a garden in Calgary Alberta. We have rich soil here and I’ve been hearing that if your soil is “too rich”, your vegitables such as carrots won’t grow as well.
In my constant search of all things permaculture, I stumbled upon a series of videos a while ago put on youtube by the University of Massachusetts where they transformed a lawn into a very large permaculture garden. They did this without digging, and they didn’t even tear out the grass. Instead the sheet mulched the place.
Sheet mulching is where you put a layer of compost down on your lawn, and then put cardboard or newspaper on top of the compost. After that, you put a thick layer of mulch down such as wood chips or straw or whatever. The cardboard breaks down and the lawn dies underneath and becomes biomass. This makes a very rich soil to grow in and thickens the topsoil layer.
Check out the video.
While I was visiting Plantation Garden Center (again, very nice people), I was speaking with one of the people who helps out there and she was saying that this can be referred to as lasagna gardening and that it can have bad effects on our gardens. I am not about to say that she’s wrong in any way, however I was very surprised to hear this. I thought the richer your soil the better. It seems silly in my head to purposely have a lower quality soil so that certain things will grow better.
Maybe I’m looking at this wrong too. Maybe a healthy soil isn’t one that is jam packed full of nutrients. There is a balance to everything and perhaps this is just one example.
Another line of thought is, if certain things won’t grow in this climate in a nutrient rich soil, maybe we shouldn’t be growing them. I want to build the soil and make it deeper and richer. I want the soil to be healthier and deeper next year and the year after that. If carrots get stringy, then maybe we should grow tomatoes and other nutrient loving things instead.
I’m not trying to put that lady down in any way. I asked for her opinion and I accept it, and I’m not going to sheet mulch the gardens I’m working, so I’m taking her advice. It’s just something that struck me as odd from a permaculture standpoint anyway.
What are your thoughts? Have you tried sheet mulching? Have you had issues where your soil was “too rich”? Am I thinking totally wrong here?
Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading.