Okay, I am tired of sheet mulching. I am going to pretend this is the final chapter of the project, but in reality I still have another load of wood chips coming this week so I can finish spreading a more presentable mulch material over our brown, soggy leaf layer. I think the neighbors would probably appreciate that.

The City of Portland delivered collected leaves a week or two ago. Unfortunately, it is so late in the season that the leaves were all pretty brown and wet. It was quite a chore to even get a pitch fork through, but I did it. Originally I had asked for 3-4 loads, but I called them after the first day and said just the one would do it. The one load covered the back and front yard with a pretty thick layer. A bit on the smelly side too… Fermenting leaves don’t have that musty, earthy smell that wood chips have. Even more potent when you lift off a steaming mound of it!

If I were to do the sheet mulching over again, I would avoid the leaf idea altogether. It was a good idea at the time and it will wrap in some higher nitrogen mulch into the composting layers. It was also free. But I had no idea so many people sneak garbage into their leaf bags. I found all kinds of treasures. And by “treasures” I mean disgusting, random assortments of garbage. Someone had one hell of a kegger, because there were a few of those red plastic cups we all remember from our college days. There were broken glass bottles, rubber straps, fast food containers, food wrappers, plastic pop bottles, even a rotting pumpkin! Yuck. I would have to say collecting the pieces of garbage and the funky smell was not really worth it in the end.

The front yard is pretty well finished as of this afternoon. The picture to the right is the backyard covered with wood chips. I should be making my One Green World run in mid-February. That will give things a couple months to settle down. I plan to just shovel in bits of compost from our bin to give the plants a jump start. Here is a rundown of my order so far:

All I want for Christmas is to not be sheet mulching outside that morning. A little picture recap is below. The first photo is the house in August with dried out grass. The next shows the funky leaf layer, which was actually placed over a thin layer of wood chips, which was placed over wet cardboard. Then the final picture is the thicker layer of wood chips over everything. Whew.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson