Yesterday I finished prepping the beds that are gonna hold the broccoli! Similar to how I constructed my first set of raised beds, I did a "sheet mulch"** to try and do the least amount of work possible.

The picture to the right is finished product.

The grass in this area had been covered for about 4 months with:
  • 1/4" of TAGRO Mix
  • Light layer of straw
  • And this time I topped it with some leftover 6mil black plastic instead of cardboard. 
The cardboard would have been a good source of organic matter once it decomposed, but I wasn't using wood framed raised beds this time. As a result, the depth of the soil I was adding over my sheet mulch was only going to be about 4" max. My worry was that the cardboard wouldn't break down fast enough for roots to be able to penetrate it. So, I just went with black plastic.

This was a great choice because I had a big roll in the basement and wanted to turn a good majority of my yard from grass to garden in the easy sheet mulch fashion.

This picture gives a bit of an idea of how much
space I'm working with:

I think I made the right decision because the plastic turned out to be excellent for killing the weeds and grass. That did leave me with the problem of a readily decomposable solid weed barrier. The cardboard does both duties so well!

One thing I did differently this time was to actually break up the ground with a pitch fork and mix in about a 1/2" of TAGRO mix.

This is the bed before I mixed in the TAGRO. Real tiny you'll see my broccoli starts that I'm hardening off.

Because of it's free nature and the fact that I had broken up the soil a bit, I decided to just put some paper down before I added the final layer of TAGRO potting soil.  I should note that before and after the paper went down I soaked the ground thoroughly:

I used old weeklies and had about 8 pages layered. This should block any grass and weeds that manage to sprout in the broken up soil. At least long enough for the broccoli to really establish itself as the dominant plant in that area. I really will also try to weed super frequently just in case.

There was definitely work put into this method. I didn't want to go to the expense of renting a tiller so I mixed probably 40 sq. ft. by hand. I didn't go all out though and only down to a depth of 12" or so. That should be sufficient for now!

This is all one big experiment so we'll see. Here's a quick picture of the other area I prepared:

And here's a shot of the broccoli and shallot starts. I'm sure at some point I'll do a whole post series on seed starting. I'll stop for now with saying that seed to fruit is nothing short of a miracle!

The varieties are blends from Territorial Seed: Ambition Hybrid Shallot and Hybrid Fall Broccoli Blend. I read that by using blends you could prolong your harvest.

**I put sheet mulch in quotes because the recipe I used was more 'sheet mulch lite' - the real deal would involve more layers of organic matter followed by a high nitrogen source.  Basically another layer or two of TAGRO and straw or cardboard.  The more layers you build the more loam type quality you give to the soil.  I think of the end product as very fertile organic matter in a form that plants are ready to use.


  1. I like it! I just started my first raised bed garden this year and I, too, was not good about thinning or spacing. I already dream of next year's garden and adding more beds. Super fun, I'll be checking in fairly regularly to see what you're up to next!

  2. Awesome! I want to get a cabbage patch in, or at least try. I'm a little late in the game, but maybe could do starts. Gwen suggested doing a cabbage patch at the demo garden next year!