Sheet mulching works to suppress weed seed germination, by blocking the light. The cardboard usually decomposes in one year, leaving a rich, healthy soil, that will hold more water and nutrients and will be ready for planting. You can also put plants in before hand and do sheet mulching around them, just be careful not to get to much mulch around the crown of your plants! We have tried different variations, depending on availability of supplies, some of our areas were missing the green compost and some areas replaced cardboard with thick layers of newspaper.
We started a trial of different weed controls on the South end of the garden, for a side by side comparison.
Yikes! We have grass growing up through the decomposed granite pathways! We used a propane torch to kill the grass. It doesn't have to burn all of the way, just enough so that the grass get's a dark green color and leave the impression of a finger print when squeezed. It starts looking like the color of cooked asparagus! Always follow with a hose, just to make sure that there's no burning embers. Make sure to use a water breaker to soften the flow, because a heavy stream will leave unsightly damage to the top layer of the decomposed granite. The picture above is from November 24th, healthy weeds.
Here is the same grass the next day after burning (November 25th)
Here's what it looks like on November 30. Still some weeds persist.. but much better.
Bindweed! You may have spotted it growing in the freshly plowed vegetable fields on the central coast, with it's beautiful morning glory flowers. But don't be fooled! This weed is so persistent and aggressive, that there's little control over it! We have a couple spots flagged throughout the garden. Even though the patches are small (approximately 2 feet wide) we are attempting to control them before they take over. We have 2 different herbicides, 57% Pelargonic acid, used at the 3% rate, and Glyphosate. We are documenting the affect of them. The Pelargonic acid is fast acting, because the acid burns the foliage and there is a noticeable change within days. Glyphosate may take up to two weeks to show damage.
Before herbicide applications.
(Image Above)Pelargonic acid damage on grass and bindweed. 5 days after application.
(Image Above) Glyphosate 5 days after application. If you look hard, you can see that the bindweed still looks healthy!
As you may be able to tell, we have a thick layer of grass growing into the edges of the DG Pathways. We did one application of (3% Rate) of Pelargonic acid. In 5 days, we had dramatic results! (see below) We did use the weakest rate on the label, which is recommended for soft, new growth. Since this grass is several weeks old, we may need to increase the rate. Remember to ALWAYS read the label for rates!
There is also a benefit to having the grass germinate close to the edge of the paths. The roots actually act as a stabilizer on the edge of the pathway! Even though the foliage is now dying, the roots will stay intact and keep supporting the edge of the path!
There's not an easy answer and a lot of work when it comes to weeds! Hopefully, your garden is already covered with a good layer of mulch and just a quick check with a hoe before they get large will be all that you need!
For More Information on Sheet Mulching by Washington State University Cooperative Extension, please see the attachment below. (click on the underlined title)
The UC Master Gardeners are now accepting applications. The deadline is quickly approaching! Please have your application postmarked by November 20th.
Please click on the underlined links below to find the application and more information about our program.
Photo by Cindy Muther
The Master Gardeners of San Luis Obispo County recently celebrated its most successful Tomato Extravaganza to date – due in large part to the generous support of its donors and the community.
Despite 110-degree temperatures, a record 400+ visitors showed up to sample dozens of varieties of tomatoes and basil, view fruit-tree grafting, worm-composting demonstrations and gather tips for growing healthy, sustainable gardens.
While this annual event is free to the public, proceeds from tomato and basil plant sales help support the Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden currently being developed in San Luis Obispo.
We’d like to thank the following organizations for contributing to our “edible” festival:
Cal Poly Organic Farm
California Rare Fruit Growers
San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden
Special thanks go to Tutti Frutti growers for supplying most of the tomatoes for the tasting. Many thanks to The Tribune, Journal Plus Magazine, New Times, and the Santa Maria Times for publicizing our event.
And for those already planning next year’s garden, the winners of the tomato and basil taste tests included Dona, Red Zebra and Sarah Black tomatoes; and Anise, Lime and Thai basil.
If you have any gardening questions that can’t wait until next year’s Tomato Extravaganza, feel free to contact the UCCE Master Gardener Helpline at 781-5939.
Another fun vermiculture workshop was held this past weekend in San Luis Obispo. This is our 3rd class and has been a really positive experience! Our instructor, Alice, is teaching people how to use red wigglers (Eisenia foetida) to break down kitchen scraps into valuable, rich compost (and compost tea!) for the garden.
Sadly, Californians dispose of 5.6 million tons of food each year, using 16% of our landfill space! In our county, the local schools started composting their cafeteria waste a few years ago, with the help of the San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority. They have a school based education program that encompasses all types of composting, including vermiculture. UC Davis and UC Berkeley also are participating in vermiculture to reduce campus cafeteria waste. If you are interested in finding more ways to reduce the amount of food that goes to the landfills, check out this link:http://www.ciwmb.ca.gov/foodwaste/
Our worm composting class is 2 hours and includes setting up your own "Wriggly Wranch" worm bin, (which is made of sturdy black recycled plastic), a nice little book (printed on recycled paper), recycled coconut fiber for bedding, a cup of worms and several years of advice. Our instructor Alice has been "vermiculturist" for years and always has a few more funny stories to share!
Photos by Lee Olson
Some funny and important rules to worm composting , based on Alice's class and testimonials that I've heard! (and it's a treat to find someone else who has worms and you can share your experience, because your friends and family just won't get it!)
Here's just a few tips:
- Don't open your mouth when opening your worm bin! (Remember fungus gnats love decomposing, moist organic matter!) Thank you Alice! That's the most important rule!
- Don't over fuss with them- just let them be! (someone told me that they counted them often to see if they were reproducing..)
- Don't put a ton of potatoes in it. Rotting potatoes are horrid and Alice's worms weren't putting up with it.
- Don't put in big pieces of broccoli (it stinks beyond words!)
- Don't scream if you get something really gross (because your neighbors will think you are weird enough to have a box of worms out there to begin with).
- Don't add bread or yeast products or dairy or meat.
- Don't add lemons and oranges (too acidic).
- If your worm bin is soggy wet- add newspaper or shredded to give your worm some bedding.
- If you have ants, place each leg of the bin in a cup of water. Ants will not cross water.
- Slug Problems inside your bin: Place copper tape around the legs of the bin. Slugs and snails will not cross over.
- Too many fruit flies, try little bottles with a bit of apple cider vinegar in the bottom. Cover the opening with Saran Wrap and punch holes in it. They will be attracted to the strong fermenting odor and not be able to escape the bottle.
Here's how the worm composting boxes work:
- The bottom box is for catching "tea" (the moisture falling from the castings and decomposing organic matter) It has a spigot for easy access.
- The second box up has holes in the bottom, which the tea can exit. This box is where you start with your coconut fiber bedding, worms and fresh food.
- Add food, coffee grinds, crushed egg shells, etc.. Most people group the same foods together, so the worms can move into the areas that are ready to be eaten and then, if they for some reason do not like it, you can easily remove it later. Keep your lid on this box until it is full.
- As this box becomes full to the top, you may sit the next box right on top and start adding food. This is also a time you can incorporate some shredded or torn up paper (soy based newspaper inks). The worms will eventually all leave the second box and go into the top box. This takes a while! You will eventually find that the bottom box is all castings and very few worms.
- Removing your compost from the box: if you gently tilt your box of worm castings and brush them off, any remaining worms in the box will burrow deeper (they burrow away from light). When you have a few inches left at the bottom, you will notice that any worms that were there had all gone to the bottom of the bin. You can incorporate this small amount back into your other working bin.
So excited! Here's the truck backing in with the delivery of the garden shed. We were so fortunate that Susie got a great discount on it from Oak Country Lumber and Ranch Supply in Santa Margarita because it was one of their samples in the store. At this point I'm wondering how on earth we will unload this thing!
It was moved into final position by two boards with a pipe in between.
The delivery guys- who made it look easy!
A beautiful coat of green paint was applied!
The final project for the day was planting iris around the rock.
The kids were proud, happy and tired by the end of the week!