The rain has been relentless, but last Sunday (yes, it was Mothers’ Day) I got out and covered my garden paths. A few years ago I was talking to my green thumb mama and my equally knowledgeable sister, and at their suggestion I moved to lining my paths with cardboard boxes and covering them with straw. I am a bit of an Amazon junkie, so coming up with boxes is not hard to do. Saving them throughout the year in different sizes works really well.
To get started just bring all the boxes out to the garden and cut them so they lay flat and unraveled. I lay out just a few boxes at a time, if it’s windy the boxes will take flight, so weigh them down with a rock or scrap wood. Then I cover the boxes with straw, which can make the boxes slippery! To resolve this, I have my hose ready and spray down the straw so it begins its interlocking process. Once the straw is nice and wet (give it a good soak), it will mat down and not blow away. This also holds the boxes in place. I do leave my box weights in places for a few days just to be safe however.
This year we had a light drizzle and no wind while laying the boxes. This was PERFECT! I didn’t need to weigh down the boxes or spray the straw. With two of us working on it we busted through it in less than an hour. I will go back with newspaper and cozy that up right next to the actual plant to avoid weeds growing in my beds. I also use newspaper to fill in some gaps, laying it on thick! I cover this with straw as well.
IMPORTANT: Never use hay, it has seeds and will plant hay all over your garden. You want straw, though you will probably still get a few seeds, I find that they grow and then die off pretty quick on their own with the boxes under them and no soil to get to.
At the end of the growing season I harvest what I can and just let the garden be. Then in the late winter when everything is dead and dry I do a burn. I don’t recommend being premature in your burn, you really want the garden super dead. The left over straw and boxes help evenly burn the entire garden. I go in a week before the burn and “fluff” up the boxes and straw with a rake or pitch fork to allow it to dry and get some air.
By the way, you see my amazing peas here! I just used some stakes and twine to help control them this year. They get leggy and climb all over each other, making a tangled mess if I don’t give them something to climb on.
It works well, hope you find this tip helpful if you are a gardener or aspire to be one!