Garden Tip: Squash Your Lawn

December 9, 2022

By Jack Kertesz

Sheet mulching your lawn can bring about short-term food and long-term garden expansion for future production in your yard. The photo shows a 4-by-8-foot plot, or roughly 50 square feet. 

squash your lawn
A 4-by-8-foot area, or roughly 50 square feet, of lawn converted to a garden bed through sheet mulching. Jack Kertesz photo 

Coarse, dead plant material, gathered from MOFGA’s perennial flower beds, was placed over the sod in the spring of 2022. A layer of on-site produced compost was added, then covered with more organic material. In mid-June, five Burpee’s Butterbush Butternut plants, raised in a greenhouse, were set out with some additional commercial compost added to each planting hole. The plants were watered intermittently during this year’s dry spells and little weeding was necessary. The results: 25 squash averaging 2 pounds each, or 50 pounds of squash total, with a retail price of $1.50 per pound, were produced in an area that formerly was a lawn. While this particular variety has a short vining habit, and is not exactly a bush type, it is well suited for compact garden spaces. It matures early and is renowned for its good flavor. The flip side of this equation is that the sod is now mostly broken down and all the layers continue to provide favorable habitat for the microorganisms in the soil that promote plant health. This could become a bed for garlic planting in the fall, with the addition of some extra compost. Or, it could easily support tomato plants, or other plants, the following year. The patch won’t have to be tilled, and with some additional mulch, it will retain moisture and contribute nutrients for the next crop.

This tip was originally published in the winter 2022-23 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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