by Wally Richards
Cardboard boxes are everywhere.
A lot of products are transported in cardboard boxes, most products we ship out are in cardboard boxes.
Supermarkets have heaps of medium to large cardboard boxes which they often put into a cycling bin as a friendly way of disposing of them.
During the week I chanced to have a chat with a gentleman that is doing similar as our company with a range of products to enhance your gardens.
During the conversation he told me of a method that he suggests to people and gardeners for starting or extending their vegetable gardens.
A method using cardboard that I had never thought of.
I have in the past suggested using cardboard as a mulch to suppress weeds which works very well.
This method is using cardboard to convert part of a lawn area into a productive vegetable garden very simply and very quickly.
In the past when I have converted a lawn to a growing area I have lifted the turf taking the top 50mm of turf off in squares, stacking them somewhere, grass side down, to rot down.
Then I would dig over the bare soil before raking off nicely for planting.
A bit of work but it made a new growing area.
Now this new way is that you firstly mow the area that you want to convert as low as the mower will let you.
You then cover the area with cardboard over lapping to ensure a total coverage of the area.
Do this on a calm day as it is difficult to do when it is windy.
Over the cardboard you put a layer of purchased compost about 20mm thick and lightly water to settle into place.
The reason for the purchased compost is that it will be weed free as long as it did not come from a re-cycling source.
I prefer Daltons Compost as it is good quality and herbicide free.
Most of the others I wouldn’t give you tuppence for as many are just fine bark with some nutrients added or bark with recycled garden wastes.
Once you have the cardboard and compost down then it is time to put minerals and nutrients onto the layer of compost.
I suggest Wallys Unlocking your Soil, BioPhos, Wallys Ocean Solids, Wallys Calcium & Health, Blood & Bone, animal manures, chicken manure, sheep manure pellets and Bio Boost. (As many as available)
Then we are going to place over these products a further layer of compost 40 to 50mm thick.
You need to choose a area that is fairly sunny and well away from trees, shrubs and vines as you are creating a great food source for your vegetables and those other bigger plants will try and robe your garden creating lots of fibrous feeder roots in the plot.
The first season will be ok but the fol,lowing season it will be full of roots and nothing will grow.
To help prevent this happening and to ensure your vegetable plot has good drainage make a trench around the plot area about to a spade depth.
This will allow surplus water to drain into the ditch where it will evaporate from sun and wind.
It will also help prevent some robber roots happening.
You could lay fence palings on top of this trench to allow a place for the wheels of your mower to ride on when cutting the rest of your lawn.
Give them a couple of coats of acrylic paint to seal in the tanalised chemicals.
If you only make your plot about a metre wide then you can work the area from one side.
If more than a metre wide you need to have a mowing strip on the far side to work all around the bed.
You should avoid walking on the bed as it compacts the growing medium.
One time I did several parallel vegetable beds about a metre wide with lawn in between them at the width of my mower. This allowed me to mow between each growing bed and a nice place to work the gardens from.
I love the idea of cutting the lawn low, covering with cardboard to suppress the weeds and then covering that with goodies and compost. Instant vegetable plot.
On existing vegetable gardens that are currently empty except for weeds the same can be done.
Cover the area with cardboard as above, then the other things ready to plant up.
The cardboard will break down over time and the worms and soil life love it.
Then the following year you may want to put new cardboard down over the bed and repeat as above.
If you have a garden with say oxalis this will bury the plants and tubers and make gardening easier for a while.
Go to your local supermarket and ask them for their used cardboard cartons or help yourself out of the dumpster.
If you happen to be near where we are in Marton then I can supply you with some large cardboard boxes to use.
We are getting g close to Christmas and if you are looking to plant up containers to give away as Christmas gifts then you better get started so they have a bit of time to settle in before you given them away.