The hills I walk I've walked before. I will give them space. They will give me more...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Burying the Past--A Cardboard Box Base for a Tropical Garden


"We were in April then: the weather was sweet and warm, the grass as green as showers and sun could make it..." (from Nelly's account of Heathcliff's last days above ground in Wuthering Heights)

Life grows sweeter when a difficult past is given a proper burial. We certainly hope that's the case with this new tropical style garden we are constructing in the backyard. Cardboard boxes from many moves over the past several years have been laid to rest as a base. It's a little eco-friendly trick I learned from working with the Gardening Friends of the Big Bend on the Demonstration Garden at NFREC in Quincy, Florida. The cardboard helps prevent or at least slows the growth of weeds, especially when it's covered with pine straw and other mulch. I prefer recycling cardboard to spending a lot of money on expensive ground fabric.

Secret Aging Man did the dirty work of removing the sod so that I could arrange the plants, lay the cardboard, and spread pine straw and cypress mulch to cover the whole bed. The triple-trunk palm was left by the former tenants. I'm not sure what kind of palm it is, but I have learned it's good to keep some distance between it and my skin. Another thorny plant! It serves to replace a large windmill palm that the tenants moved from the front yard and subsequently killed, either by neglect or the shock of moving it. We burned those palm remains along with some other yard debris a couple of nights ago.

Rain is falling as I write this post, washing new ashes and old regrets deep into sandy soil. It nourishes and settles the new plants we've added to our tropical garden here in subtropical Northwest Florida.

Happy Earth Day 2012!

11 comments:

Brigitta Huegel said...

Dear Walk2Write,
that's an interesting way of keeping the weeds at bay - I never heard of it, but it sounds good. The tips of such palms can be needle-sharp. But they look lovely in a garden - and you have the climate to let them grow. It will become a beautiful garden again!

TC said...

And did we have to eradicate any fire-ant hills before or after?

I like the use of cardboard for helping start a new garden spot. In the past I've even laid it down right on top of sod, then mulched heavily with composted leaves to a depth of at least four inches. The next season you can plant.

troutbirder said...

And here I've been burning all those useful boxes. Anything except toxics to keep those weeds at bay. :)

walk2write said...

Brigitta, the cardboard really does work. I laid some down for the blueberry planting a couple of years ago, and it's still working quite well at keeping the weeds at bay. It may need replenishing in another year or so, but we will have to ask someone else who has moved for cardboard boxes next time!

TC, I did have to disturb a few of those hills before installing the new garden. I'm sure there were ant-curses being hurled at us while we worked. We were doing the ant dance as usual, but I didn't let a few bites stop me.

I'm of the same opinion, TB. Try to avoid anything toxic if at all possible. Save those cardboard boxes and sell a bunch of them at your next yard sale with a label attached: Eco-friendly weed barrier!

Julie said...

Neat trick!!! Good luck with your tropical garden! FUN!!!

cosmos said...

Hi w2w,
Sounds like a good idea to use cardboard boxes. With a subtropical weather, they are easily biodegraded. The palm trees will offer nice shades from the sun.
Have a happy gardening!

snowwhite said...

I love recycling. If more and more people use the cardboard to prevent or slow the growth of weeds, the earth will be better place. Your idea is really innovative and great.
Happy Earth Day!
Best wishes,
keiko

walk2write said...

Thanks, Julie! I think we will enjoy the hardy ginger planted there even more than the palm trees. The scent should be heavenly here in a few months.

Cosmos, the cardboard is keeping the moisture in the ground longer too, which really cuts down on my watering chores. I probably should have mentioned that and will in a follow-up post. Thanks for stopping by.

Hi, Keiko! I agree, more people should use cardboard. The boxes we put down were used repeatedly for moving, and I thought they should serve one last useful purpose rather than going to the landfill. Happy Earth Day to you!

Rose said...

I used to use newspapers to keep out the weeds or start a new bed, the lasagna-gardening way, but I found, too, that using cardboard is so much faster. With daughter's move back home, I had a big supply, too, and using it in the garden saved a trip to the recycling center.

Ah, Catherine and Heathcliff...too bad they couldn't bury their problems in such a simple way.

walk2write said...

Rose, the moving companies should be adding an image on their boxes that promotes this use for the ones that get retired. Like you said, it saves a trip to the recycling center and encourages people to get diggin' in the dirt.

Stratoz said...

May beauty emerge from your caring spirits and hands