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Monday, March 20, 2023
Growing Together: Lasagna gardening is an easy, no-dig alternative
Lasagna Garden getting started. Joanne Young

Are you thinking of preparing new gardens next spring? Or do you have an existing vegetable garden that could use some soil improvement?

Why not try some lasagna gardening.

This is a no-dig, no-till organic gardening method that results in rich, fluffy soil with little work by the gardener.

Lasagna gardening is involves adding layers of organic materials that will “cook down” over time, resulting in nutrient-rich soil that will help your plants thrive. You are also letting the earthworms do all the work.

Also known as “sheet composting,” lasagna gardening is great for the environment because you’re using your yard and kitchen waste and essentially composting it in place to make a new garden.

One of the best things is how easy it is. You don’t have to remove existing sod and weeds. In fact, you don’t have to work the soil at all.

This saves a lot of work, and it also means you are not digging up and getting rid of the soil directly under the sod (which is usually the richest soil you have).

The first layer of your lasagna garden consists of either brown corrugated cardboard or three layers of newspaper laid directly on top of the grass or weeds in the area you’ve selected for your garden.

Wet this layer to keep everything in place and to start the decomposition process. Once you have the cardboard or paper layer down, then you begin to layer material on top, alternating between brown and green.

So, what do you build your lasagna garden with? Anything you’d put in a compost pile, you can put into a lasagna garden.

The materials will break down, providing nutrient-rich, crumbly soil in which to plant.

The following are green materials that can be used: grass clippings, fruit and vegetables scraps, seaweed, spent blooms, and trimmings from the garden like perennials that are being cut back for the season.

For brown material, you can use fallen leaves from trees, coffee grounds, tea leaves, composted manure, compost, pine needles, peat moss and straw.

There is some importance to the methods you use to build your lasagna garden. In general, you want your “brown” layers to be about twice as deep as your “green” layers, but there’s no need to get finicky about this.

Just layer browns and greens, and a lasagna garden will result.

Ideally, what you want at the end of your layering process is a two-foot tall, layered bed. You’ll be amazed at how much this will shrink in a few short weeks.

You can make a lasagna garden at any time of year. Fall is an optimum time, though, because of the amount of organic materials you can get for free thanks to fallen leaves and general yard waste from cleaning up the rest of the yard and garden.

You can let the lasagna garden sit and break down all winter. By spring, it will be ready to plant in with a minimum of effort. Also, fall rains and winter snow will keep the materials moist, which helps them break down faster.

If you make the bed in spring, layer as many greens and browns as you can, with layers of finished compost, peat or topsoil interspersed in them.

Finish off the entire bed with three or four inches of finished compost or topsoil, and plant. The bed will settle some over the season as the layers underneath decompose.

Caring for a lasagna garden also is less laborious. You can expect fewer weeds, better water retention, less need for fertilizer – and soil that is easy to work.

Now your only problem will be finding plants to fill all those new gardens.

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