Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Lasagna Bed: The Very Basics

Okay, I am mildly ashamed that it took me so long to figure this one out.

The Lasagna Bed.

A No-Till Method.

Why did I spend several seasons moving earth, when all I needed to do was create something on top of the earth? Gears start turning, mouth opens slightly, smoke rises from ears. Ahh - I see . . .

This is my first attempt - I felt a great sense of accomplishment after less than an hour this past weekend. And my back was the better for it.

The bottom layer is cardboard. (I made an arrangement with the local health food store to ferret through their weekly recycling pile.) Ideally, you'll need to wet the cardboard and then start with your layers. I'm testing out compost, mixed with shredded leaves, some coco(nut)-peat and eventually, grass clippings. Then, lots of mulch. Repeat.

As everything starts to decompose - you pull the layers apart and start planting. I'm going to create paths and just put hardwood mulch from our county's solid waste authority over those sections of the cardboard mulch.

An even bigger shortcut, for small spaces, would be to buy bags of potting soil, lay them flat on the ground, cut them open and plant di-rectly. Throw a little compost and mulch its way and you should be ready to plant your new-fangled flower bed.

I've heard that you need to wait a year for everything to break down - but I'm hoping for something a bit sooner (which is why I am using already decomposed compost and coco-peat). Patience is something I still only aspire to practicing.

It doesn't look like much now, so you need a lot of vision. I'm hoping for some natives - Black-eyed Susans, Echinacea, False Blue Indigo and Phlox. Vision! Which is what most of us gardeners seem to thrive upon anyway . . .


Anonymous said...

I always wondered what lasagna gardening was. Thanks for the info & pics :)

Wings4 said...

Ok. So that is what a lasagna bed is. I never heard it called that, but have heard the term "sheet composting". I have "sort of" tried it, but maybe this year, I'll try a little harder. It makes sense that it has to work....

Anonymous said...

Hey! I'm just catching up-been working too hard at Ft Bragg. Don'y you love that coco peat?

I love the Lasagna Gardening books.

Natasha said...

I have to say I absolutely adore your blog. I found it on Wednesday this past week and I have since devoured every word. While I don’t think I’ll ever get around to blogging, no patience or persistence for it and I am pretty much the shy-keep-to-myself type, I will continue to read Life in Sugar Hollow. I have had such fun reading already, thank you!

I have soil problems, drama…. soil nightmares!

I am soil clueless.

I live in a small mountain town with a high altitude (about 7,300 feet above sea level) in northeastern New Mexico. I am told that we are zone 5… though with our winters I’d say more zone Antarctica. Our acre of property is… interesting. Most of the town lies in an old river valley so digging for flowerbeds was a major chore as we pulled up sooooo much rock. I figured I’d dig instead of spending money on material for raised beds (no idea what I was thinking). When we were done the soil had so much rock, large rocks to large gravel sized rocks, I though maybe I could sift the rocks out. After much frustration (I actually cried) I gave up and spent money on potting soil… I should have just ordered a truckload. I had no idea what else to do, completely clueless. We used the dirt we pulled up to build up the driveway and the larger rocks will be used to frame the beds. I have two more beds to go, one will be dug (I’m cringing at the thought) and the other I’m going to beg someone to help me build. How do you build up soil that is nothing but rock? Is it even possible? I should just go with raised beds or maybe I’ll experiment with a lasagna bed… hmm.

My only excuse… I am new at this! I will learn from this huge experiment and I will listen to my Mom more often.

Tracey said...

Natasha - Thanks so much for your comment! Yes, soil challenges, indeed. I would try raised beds - a little more work up front, but then you'll have work-able soil.

I am so happy to hear that you are enjoying my blog!!!