YES, OF COURSE I know about the more backbreaking ways to make a new bed, but lately I confess I’ve been relying more and more upon the magic of recyclables: newspaper and cardboard to be specific.
Where I used to double-dig and work in lots of compost before I began planting, now (assuming the underlying soil is fairly decent, neither bog nor wasteland) I simply layer on newspaper thickly, or spread out flattened corrugated cardboard boxes as the weed-smothering underlayment to my bed. I was reminded of this recently on the ever-so-useful blog by English newspaper editor and allotment gardener Jane Perrone. Someone asked Jane, a dedicated organic gardener like I am, about whether using cardboard as mulch like this was OK. Jane checked with Garden Organic, the 50-year-old UK organic-garden charity, and got the thumb’s up. Good thing for me; good thing for all of us who want to smother some more lawn this spring in favor of more diverse plantings, but need a little shortcut.