Manga Mulch

By September 17, 2010 My Garden 3 Comments

So Niche Gardens is having a 50% off sale through Saturday, and not being made of stone, my credit card and I went to go stock up.

And by “went” I mean that the wind of my passing tore leaves from the trees and I arrived wild-eyed and foaming and crying “WHERE ARE THE CHEAP PLANTS?!”

Ahem. Dignity. I has it.

See, I’d been planning on putting in a huge new bed this fall, even bigger than the existing one, thereby turning the front yard into a meandering grassy path through the garden rather than a yard with a big island bed in it. (Yes. Kevin loves me. And hates mowing, in more or less equal measure.) And I knew it would take sweat and labor and a lot of dirt, but the really spendy bit was gonna be the plants. But 50% off at Niche! *flail*

So now I have all the stuff for my bed. I just needed the bed.

So, I got out the edging and laid out the outline…

The perspective makes this look more insanely ambitious than it really is. Don't get me wrong, it's still crazy, just not QUITE so crazy.

Sheet mulching, aka “lasagna gardening,” the technique I’m using, is pretty much the idiot proof method of building a bed. You lay down a layer of newspaper, and then you throw any old crap you have lying around on it–dirt, manure, grass clippings, dead leaves, compost, whatever–and then you toss a layer of topsoil on it and a layer of mulch and say “You are now a bed!”

Ideally you then let it cook over the winter, but you can plant immediate if so desired. It’s best to do it in fall, but seriously–idiot proof. Also ideally there’s a proper proportion of green-to-brown material for people who like to obsess about the nitrogen cycle, but again, if there isn’t, stuff will still grow, and it will likely grow well.

Dirt I can get and leaves and grass I have and most of the fall chopping I can toss on as well and I needed to pick up some bags of manure anyway. What I didn’t have was newspaper, which is kinda helpful in keeping the bed from getting overrun by bermudagrass and so forth.

Enter Kevin, and eight boxes of elderly Japanese-language Shonen Jump. Somebody had given him a manga collection, and he had sold what he could, given away what he could, and was left with these boxes, at least one of which you’ve seen recycled into art.

And I must say, spending a warm late summer evening sitting out in the garden, tearing pages out of manga by the handful, is not unpleasant. I got about half the bed done before the mosquitoes drove me indoors. Lord knows what will grow from such a base, but hey, there are worse forms of recycling.

(No, I am not much concerned about possible traces of heavy metals in the inks used to print. A) it’s a flower bed, B) I have both eaten Twinkies and mixed dry powdered glazes in ceramics, which are nothing BUT heavy metals, and C) I think people’s brains have kinda fallen out on the whole trace contaminates of heavy metals thing, since we are constantly exposed to stupidly toxic stuff all the time. When you have fixed the problems with fish, acid rain, and Chinese paint-jobs, THEN I will worry about my eggplants sucking trace amounts of lead from Bobobobo’s printed pores. Not before.)

This weekend–more manga! And perhaps manure!

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