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Landscape Tips & Ideas: Sheet Mulching, Cultivating Soil Health, and Homemade Salves

Wednesday June 08, 2011

by Jeff Robbins, Revolution Landscape

Preparing Soil for Mulching around Plants & Weed Prevention

In California, most weeds only grow when water is available. They are usually most troublesome in the winter and after rain.
Here are the steps to remove weeds and prevent them from coming up again:

1. Use a garden hoe to uproot all visible weeds.
2. Remove especially invasive weeds like Crab Grass and Bermuda Grass from the site. It is OK to leave other weed material.
3. Place one layer of wet cardboard over space. The cardboard acts as a weed barrier and is a sustainable alternative to manufactured products.
4. Put 3-4 inches of woodchip or compost mulch on top of the cardboard before the cardboard has had a chance to dry.
5. Be careful not to smother your plants with mulch and you're done!

Remulching should occur every couple years as new weed seeds are deposited and the mulch and cardboard biodegrade.


Cultivating Healthy Soil Ecology

There is more than meets the eye in your garden soil. The relationships between minerals, organic matter, plant roots, bacteria, fungi, and other organisms make life possible. Attention to your garden soil can cultivate healthy plants that are more resistant to diseases and pests and that bear higher yields of delicious fruits and vegetables. Some simple tips to improve your soil ecology are eliminate use of pesticides and herbicides, replace synthetic fertilizers with organic fertilizers, and fertilize less.

healthy soil smells good

Contributor Jeff Robbins taking in the aroma of healthy soil.

How to make Moisturizing Salves from the Herbs You Grow

Cooking from the garden is fantastic but what about alternative uses for the plants you grow? One different way you can use many culinary herbs is to create fragrant moisturizing salves. I like to use salves on dry skin and chapped lips and my favorite flavors are Rosemary, Lavender, and Mint. Here is a simple step to step guide on making salves. For more detailed instructions visit

1. Select a olive, almond, or coconut oil.

2. Select fresh, dry herbs. Get enough plant material to completely fill the jar you are using.

3. Coarsely chop the herbs and pack them into a clean and dry jar.

4. Pour oil slowly over the herbs all the way to the top of the jar. Poke the herbs with a stick to eliminate air pockets. Screw on lid tight.

5. Let sit for 6-8 weeks.

6. Pour liquid into a different clean and dry jar. Strain the herbs out through a piece of cloth.

7. Your herbs have been infused into the oil.

8. Warm 2 ounces of infused oil on low heat until warm.

9. Add 2 TBS of grated beeswax and stir until incorporated with the oil.

10. Pour mixture into a small, shallow, glass jar and let it cool until solid.

11. If it is too soft reheat and add more beeswax. If it is too hard reheat and add more oil.

12. Once completely cool screw the lid on tight and label!

homemade salve in glass jars