I may be a registered member of the Mulch Supporters Club but I never understood the Permaculture fetish for wet paper.
More trouble than it's worth.
Laying out the beds at the Vetiver plantation sure enamoured me to cardboard as a mulch understory and now it looks like I'm addicted.
Cardboard, after all, is mashed up wood chips...and it's available any and everywhere. More so, in fact, than newspaper.
The DIY is simple.
- Using a piece of cardboard of a size that can cover the soil around a seedling -- place it on the soil surface or even over any weeds.
- 'Nail' the cardboard into place with a tent peg. (You will pull the peg out when the seedling's growth consolidates).
- Using a stabbing tool that enlarges to a broader gauge than its point, stab a hole in the cardboard and through to the soil underneath.
- Wiggle the tool about to widen the hole diameter both in the cardboard and the soil below. Make it wide enough to easily accommodate your seedling.
- Insert your seedling into the hole to plant.
Short star posts, chisels, sharpened sticks or dowels will work well as stabbers.
You can plant in any pattern or any distance between plants according to your preferences.
(Image above left :Seminole Pumpkin seedling on a cardboard mulch platform)
The cardboard may not look House & Garden 'neat' but that will be temporary as the plants will grow to cover and shade it. Thereafter, it will rot down.
Indeed, once you have hosed the plants in and soaked the area the cardboard will adapt to the contour below.
I've already had some success with this method. It certainly makes for easy work and ticks a lot of mulching boxes.
The primary perspective -- that now rules my planting approach -- is not to disturb the soil, or do so as little as possible.
A good stab into the earth is a benign intervention. A good DEEP stab will also prepare the soil for the roots to follow.
A great idea when planting Daikon radish seedlings as in this image to the right.
Don't forget to recover your tent peg once the cardboard has settled over the earth and the seedling has taken off.
The tent peg will hold the cardboard in place as you pierce it to plant -- and later prevent any gust of wind from lifting the board and blowing it away.
In the plantation we also drop some manure into drilled holes -- so something akin to that may be an appropriate protocol in the kitchen garden as well.