Back on July 1, I began cutting down the ornamental shrubs in the center of the front yard to clear the space and replant it with something ornamental and edible – sweet cherry, mulberry and fig trees. Many years ago, the area had been planted with an azalea, two rhododendrons and some yews. The rhododendrons had been slowly dying, and the yews had been devoured by grazing deer. Wild raspberries, brambles, and a large tuft of ornamental grass were beginning to overtake the area, while two black cherries saplings and three white pine sprouts had taken root among the yews. I removed the black cherry and white pine first. Then as I cut away the yew and azalea branches, I found a hidden treasure – two mulberry saplings.
My food forest design specified planting a mulberry tree near this very spot, so the discovery of mulberry already growing here was magical. And, I found not just one mulberry tree, but two. I dug the smaller mulberry sapling out by the roots and transplanted it in the center the back wood lot. The larger mulberry sapling was entangled with the azalea roots, and I left it undisturbed.
This morning, August 4, I began to do some sheet mulching ’round the mulberry bush.’ I started work early, while the front yard was still in shade. The first step in this process was to lay down sheets of cardboard and place newsprint under the gaps and holes. I soaked the layer with a garden hose. This layer will prevent the grass, brambles and weeds from growing back, so we can replant with berry bushes, herbs and clover.
Then I added a layer of wood chips. When the Largess Forestry tree crew removed the invasive Norway Maple trees in the back wood lot, they left me a generous pile of wood chips. I had completed sheet mulching this small area by 11 am. The shade was gone, the sun was beating down, and I was coated with grime and sweat. I was done for the day and ready for a cold shower. Please with the transformation of the center of the front yard, I put away my garden tools and headed indoors.
As I collect more cardboard, I will continue to layer outward from here. Then in the late fall, the area will be ready for planting cherry, fig and other fruit trees, to keep the magic mulberry company.