- Start with digging up or tilling under the bed (this is not essential, but will help spur bacterial involvement – the bed is no-till following)
- Pile 4-6 inches of chipped wood/mulch (preferably stems and trunks less than 2in in diameter)
- Soak the wood with water
- Overtop, layer 2-4 inches of grass-fed horse-manure (I stay away from cow manure unless I know the cows have been pasture raised)
- As a weed barrier, lay down non-bleached cardboard or newsprint (most local papers use soy-based black and white ink) – pre-soak these materials
- Next, layer flakes of green hay, soak
- Then a layer of coffee grounds, compost, or other green rotters (coffee grounds are free and in abundance at local coffee houses!)
- Add another layer of wet, heavy paper, then flakes of straw to cover the entire bed (should be appx 2-3 feet tall – will shrink down to 8-12 inches in three weeks time)
- Over top the beds, add a thin layer of composted coffee grounds and plant peas that have been inoculated with Rhizobia bacteria (available at most garden centers) and leave to bake for the season
This recipe will generate a great, rich soil, but requires patience for best results. It may be used safely after one year, and will produce best after two. To maintain this no-till bed design, plant 25% N2 fixing plants and dynamic accumulators (like comfrey) that may be mulched in place.
That’s a quick recipe for good earth!