|Butterfly Weed is a close relative of the milkweed.|
Monarch butterflies need one plant or the other to feed their caterpillars.
Our neighbor donated more newspapers, so I want to to use them as an initial layer on the grass where I will built up a butterfly and hummingbird area. Both creatures like the same kind of plants, a variety including Butterfly Bush and Butterfly Weed. Bee Balm (Oswego Tea, also called Monarda) is another fave, along with Bee Bread (Borage) and Comfrey (a Borage relative).
|Borage - Bee Bread - will seed itself.|
To have a good area for planting, I want the grass mostly gone and the soil soft for spring planting. I am going to try two free sources for this, a layer of newspapers and a layer of leaves on top. Rain is coming so that could work out well.
Our artist-in-residence, Norma Boeckler, was intrigued about my double-layer of newspapers and mulch. Most mulching sources will mention commercial mulch alone, but not the newspapers.
Newspapers block more of the sunlight from the soil, which is important in killing off the lawn grass and creating compost rather than weeds like crabgrass that roar through the wood mulch and grow even higher.
In a short period of time, newspaper alone will turn grass black, generating compost on the spot with all the right ingredients - high nitrogen grass, earthworms, moisture, darkness, and soil creatures. I would rather kill knee-high crabgrass with newspapers than spraying the patch with RoundUp, vinegar, Dawn, salt water, or a torch.
A rain-soaked box of newspapers is incredibly heavy. Cellulose holds a lot of water. When the box of newspapers dries, the pages blow all over the neighborhood. I have experience newspapers soaking wet and dry from heavy winds and sun. Our helper is skeptical about leaves holding down the newspapers, but I am optimistic - if the promised rain comes and the leaves keep falling.
We already filled the compost bin (chicken wire) with leaves on top the green trash from Mr. Gardener's harvest. Snow fell and melted on the dead plants, and the leaves began to decompose and speed up the green material's decomposition. I add wrinkled apples, fallen pears, and black bananas from time to time.
|Pig Weed is a beautiful plant with bad PR.|
This weed will generate juicy, tender growth for composting,
growing anywhere and yet easy to harvest.
Given that a large area of organic matter will cover the lawn in the far back, what will we do in the spring? Planting through mulch is the easiest possible way to garden. Simply pull the much away with a metal rake - and plant. The rest of the mulch will continue to feed the soil, hold water, and block unwanted weeds.
The roses along the fence will be different. We will plant the roses in the lawn, then mulch with newspapers and cypress around them. We can create a straight line and space them easier this way. The mulch budget for 2014 was used up faster than the snow removal funds in Buffalo this fall.
In short, a Creation gardener will save as much organic matter as possible for renewing the soil, and trust the soil creatures to pull down what is needed for their use.
The soil web theory argues that the populations beneath the surface will shred the initial contributions, break up the complex chemicals (cellulose, carbohydrates), and hold them close to the plant roots. The soil creatures will endlessly swap the chemicals and keep them right where the plants need them. In turn, the plant roots will swap their carbon for the NPK and metal ions they need.
Not rototilling is the best possible way to build up the soil population.
|Plants need nitrogen for growth,|
which is passed around by bacteria, nematodes, protozoa, fungi, and earthworms.
Nitrogen is a trust fund kept in the family by the Creation gardener.