|Bellevue gardens, 4/8/2012|
A huge benefit can be seen in the above photo. My garden on the right is fully planted and currently productive. Most folks are still tilling and now just starting to seed or put in transplants. The plot on the left has already had a load of mushroom soil tilled in, but that mushroom addition has disappeared as fertilizer for the weeds. It will get tilled again before being planted. Then the pathways between rows will be tilled again and again as the method for "weeding" the garden. All the while grinding up the weeds and grass into more small pieces that will grow again. You can see the mushroom soil in my garden on the right. I used it as a mulch on top of the soil, where it will still release its nutrient value, while serving as a valuable mulch to keep down the weeds. The soil is so friable and moist, that any weeds that do grow are very easy to pull by hand. In neighboring Pennsylvania where the mushroom soil comes from, the mushroom growers by law have to steam sterilize the mushroom soil before it leaves the mushroom houses. Thus it makes a great weed free mulch. Grass clippings, leaves, and wood chips on top of the soil all work as good mulch.
By setting up permanent beds and paths, only the path areas get walked on. The soil in the beds stays light and unpacked. And full of plants year round.
Also in current production are collards and collards flower stalks, Egyptian walking onions eaten as green onions, leeks, overwintered Tango lettuce, and cutting celery. Lots of different lettuces are still producing in the cold frames, even as new starts are being planted. And some cardoon is ready to harvest if I only knew what to do with it.
Out of nearly two hundred garden plots at the park, mine is the one green oasis among plowed furrows or weed patches yet to be tilled. With gas at $4/gallon, I don't see any reason to change from my old ways.