Racing Beryl

The first stage of the sheet mulching is done and I feel incredibly accomplished. And sore. But mostly accomplished

Thursday we ordered a truckload of the chipped yard waste mulch. It was delivered the same day. Friday my older son and I drove out to a friend’s farm in Newberry for free manure. Unfortunately the transporting method wasn’t the best but we hauled home a pretty good amount. Then that afternoon we had the yard mowed down as low as possible. Thanfully I checked the weather that evening and saw Tropical Storm Beryl coming straight at us. Desperately needed rain! The storm was supposed to hit Monday at 2am. We had plans for all day Saturday and Sunday, but with the storm coming we decided to send just my husband and middle son off and the rest of us would stay home and work. I knew I was going to have to stay home and get this bed down before the storm hit.

Mulch absorbs water. That’s what it’s supposed to do! Wet mulch is heavy. A 10 cubic yard pile of mulch would absorb a huge amount of water and take days, maybe weeks, to dry out enough that we could move it without killing ourselves. I wanted that wet mulch where it was supposed to be, smothering weeds and decomposing into beautiful humus for my yard.

From that point on, it was a race.

Sunday morning we were up and in the yard at 7:45am. My older son, daughter and I started by spreading the manure out with rakes and watering it all well. Then we started laying out the huge pile of boxes I had gathered.

It was nowhere near enough. I severely underestimated the amount of cardboard we would need. I went ahead and wetted down the cardboard and then we waited for one of Alex’s friends to arrive. As soon as he got here, I sent the two boys out to get cardboard. It took three trips and the discovery of a pile of large boxes behind a furniture store top finally get enough cardboard. One of those permaculture tips that’s probably only applicable to people in Florida? Don’t bother wetting the cardboard ahead of time. By 9:30 it was bright and hot enough that the cardboard was drying almost immediately. I wasted gallons and gallons of water on cardboard that would get soaked by the storm coming in and stay wet with the mulch on top of it.

By that time my daughter had left, and it was just me, my older son, and one of his friends. Thankfully teenage boys can be paid in cupcakes.

Laying down the mulch took much, much longer than I thought it would. We only had 4 buckets and one wheelbarrow. Shovels are useless moving mulch. We had one small garden fork and our hands. One on the wheelbarrow, one on the buckets, and one filling buckets and wheelbarrow. Finally another of my son’s friends arrived. After that it went much faster.

Laying down the cardboard and mulching this roughly 5′ x 40′ bed took 3 hours and about 1/2 the mulch. My goal was to get 1/3 of the yard sheet mulched this weekend. We fell far, far short of this goal. The tropical storm actually started hitting this area about 7pm yesterday and it’s been steadily raining ever since. This part of Florida is under severe drought conditions and we need this rain badly so I am resolutely not complaining, but man I wish we could have gotten more done yesterday.

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