Yesterday we placed a large silage tarp over the grass and weeds in this area to attempt to start a new no-till/no-dig garden site.
We tried super hard to find enough items to keep the tarp down, but in the end we probably just need to buy a load of bricks. Until then, we are using these found-items as tarp weights. (Normally, farmers use old truck and tractor tires to hold their tarps down, but of course we don’t have that many old tires!)
Of course it was SUPPOSED to NOT be windy overnight so we could continue working on the site today, but of course the good old Kansas wind kicked up overnight. When I went out this morning, the tarp had moved inward a little on the south side (side with the smooth wire) and a bit on the east side, but at least the tarp mostly stayed down (even in 25 mph gusts). I will straighten it out today and add a pair of car tires and a couple of bales of straw in the middle to stop the tarp from undulating in the wind.
Back in the fall, I had mown the area down to a 3-4″ height. Yesterday, we also unloaded about four muck carts of manure, straw, and shavings and spread it out underneath the northwest corner of the tarp as a way of mulching the grass and weeds underneath and cushioning the tarp from woody stems (they’ve been poking some holes in the tarp). Ideally, we mulch the entire area under the tarp with unfinished compost. We think it will take about 24 muck carts total. The area of the tarp is roughly 24′ by 48′.
The theory, according to the book No Dig Organic Home & Garden by Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty, is for the mulch and tarp to block all light from the weeds and grass underneath. Over the span of several months, the leaves and grass should die back. Meanwhile, hopefully the manure, straw, and shavings will start to cure underneath the tarp. If we are successful, then the new garden bed should ultimately be weed and grass free.
Yes, this is the coolest time of the year, but we wanted to get started and get the tarp in place. We can get pretty high temperatures here even in March, which might cause some solarization underneath. It will probably take a while to get enough mulch under the tarp, but we figure the longer the sun is blocked, the better, and it keeps the chickens and ducks out of the mulch. Maybe we might have a workable plot by June 1? We shall see…