Mulching and layering a new veggie patch

by Jane
(Temple Cloud, Somerset)

I have owned a lovely 4 acre piece of land for three years, am living on it with my husband and two year old in a caravan, while converting a barn and have had a pond liner over the sunniest patch of nettles for two years. This is where I plan to start growing veggies.

I am limited by shading trees and unfavourable aspect as to where I can grow so have chosen the sunniest spot after watching the land for the last two years.

I have peeled back the liner and to my joy the nettle roots have finally died, apart from the edges which I have dug ONCE to stop the nettles recolonising.

I also have a large supply of Bracken on the land.

I am lucky to have a unlimited supply of horse poo from a local being delivered soon.

Here are my questions to you!

: DO I need to put down a newspaper/cardboard layer before the horse poo? I am reluctant as both materials carry a lot of printer ink and glue (cardboard) in them.

: If I don't use the cardboard/newspaper layer, how thick should the horse poo layer be and should I cover it over again with the liner until I'm ready to plant, or will a thick mulch on top do?

: I do not have a supply of straw and I have heard that bracken makes a good mulch although I am concerned with the carcinogenic spores. Can I use it for my veggie patch and if so, should I compost it for a year first and start off by getting in straw for this year?

For all those of you with acres of nettles, suppressing them for a lengthy amount of time DOES kill them off, leaving you with just the pesky edges to deal with. I have a lot of other patches of nettles which I will leave to flourish and be a crop for food, tea, butterflies, and nettle beer which my husband intends to try making.

I have a large quantity of local rabbits in my hedgerows so will have to rabbit proof my patches to the MAX, but that's another forum question for later!

Thanks for any help

Comments for Mulching and layering a new veggie patch

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Jan 18, 2011
New Veggie Patch
by: George in New Zealand

Hi Jane and welcome to the wonderful world of No Dig gardening. In reply to your questions from my experience of about 8 years of very successful No Dig as due to a chronic heart condition I cannot dig. Yes, you should cover the ground with at least 10 layers of paper or just the cardboard to prevent any seeds sprouting. Do not worry about the inks and glue as modern inks do not contain arsenic or, as far as I can ascertain, any other deleterious chemicals, similarly for the glue. I used at 10cm of horse, then about the same of hay/straw. The bracken would be suitable in lieu if you can break it up with a mulcher first. I have used a lot of bracken and had not heard of the carcinogenic properties. The nettles are a fantastic fertiliser and make a very effective foliar feed fertiliser but be warned, it PONGS mightily while brewing up in your barrel. If you need any more info please email me at

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