I pulled back the mulch to plant some amaranth and look what I found! A nice big pile of worm castings. There was a great big earthworm who took off as quick as he could from the pile when I pulled back the mulch.
This is what it looks like under the thick layer of straw we put down. The paper and cardboard are very decomposed. The ground is soft and moist without being too damp. I planted some amaranth and put a very thin layer of coffee grounds over it.
In general I am very pleased with the mulching. I have found that it is not killing all the weeds though. My straw and paper mulch has been on the garden for over 2 mo now. And despite that I have consistent trouble with dandelions and sorrel pushing its way through. Of course it is NOTHING compared to the mess I would have if I hadn't mulch and if I had tried to till and weed it all by hand. I have a hard enough time trying to deal with the weed seeds in the herb garden that is not mulched like this. I am planning on mulching it better once the seeds I have planted recently come up. I also can not plant directly in the mulch like Pat Lanza says you can in her book Lasagna Gardening. I tried it at first with my squash and cucumbers and it was a disaster. The compost I put in as a soil pocket became just that...a hardened pocket in the mulch. The plants just did not send roots through the peat pots into it either. They were basically stalled until I dug them all up, removed the peat pots and dug down to the soil and replanted them. They are doing great now and we have some blossoms!
The okra is just coming up. I can not wait to enjoy this okra. We have an assortment of squash and cucumbers here ( bush butternut squash, two bush cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash and a scalloped patty pan summer squash) and the okra is planted in a row down the center of it all. It is hard to see it all right now with the angle and the straw.
Here is a shot of part of the herb garden. We have this 4 square area and then another area behind it equal in size. However the plants have completely taken over the back half of the herb garden. It was planted all in perennials and the rosemary has an 8 ft span and the thyme with the rosemary has pretty much engulfed all the paths. I'm afraid the rosemary is going to have to go eventually. It looks awful. A giant pine tree fell on it this past New Years and just made a mess of it. I didn't prune it either and it has become too sparse on the inside. But it provides its own microclimate to the area and just cutting it down will drastically change things. It's nice how little weeding needs to be done in that area of the garden because the plants are so dense.
In the herb garden we have rosemary, a variety of thymes, oregano, marjoram, french tarragon, lambs ears, echinacea, bee balm, egyptian topping onion, saffron crocus, phlox, nasturtiums, lettuce leaf basil and genovese basil, daisies, sweet williams, a David Austin rose Anne Boleyn, violas, chives, borage, marigolds, variegated loosestrife, St John's Wort and variegated St John's Wort, ice plant, dill, lemon balm, anise hyssop and whatever else I can't recall right now. I just planted some achillea, garlic chives, traditional chives, salad burnet and cilantro too and hopefully they'll come up! I am in the process of mulching with coffee grounds if you are wondering what's going on with the dark ground in some areas.
The tomatoes and tomatillos in the bed on the side of the house look wonderful. The ones in the back garden however have evidence of being eaten by flea beetles. I don't see any flee beetles though just the tiny holes. I need to figure out how to get rid of them.