Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lasagna Gardening

As promised I'm going to write a bit about this. I'm not an expert, I've just read one article, but I'm about to launch into it and I'll report my success or failure as the summer progresses.

The idea comes from Pat Lanza, author of the book Lasagna Gardening. She says she developed this technique simply because she was to unable to keep up with weeding and caring for the garden in traditional ways. She says you can put this right down over old sod to effectively kill the grass without chemicals. She used this to kill an entire lawn and turn it into a wonderful flower bed that required no weeding.

The technique makes huge sense to me, but holds an extra appeal because it gives me an opportunity of recycling things that are readily available to me (though I'm still skeptical about the no-weeding part). In a nutshell, here's how it works.
  • Put down a layer of newspapers. This will keep the weeds down (I haven't read the book, but I'm assuming you overlap sheets and maybe even double them for good coverage.
  • Add a layer of peat moss.
  • Add a layer of chopped leaves. Sadly I already raked and disposed of my leaves. But there's alway next fall.
  • Add another layer of peat moss.
  • Add a layer of grass clippings (oh, I have plenty of those and will be glad not to fill my garbage can with them every week).
  • Add another layer of peat moss.
Wet it down. You can now plant in the plot (I have already planted so I will attempt to place my 'lasagna' around existing plants, and may add in some annuals).

Over the summer, the concoction will decompose and will enrich the soil underneath, building up a new layer of rich top soil.

Now, since I have not actually read the book, but only a newspaper article about it and about the success some local gardeners have enjoyed with it, I am enthused but probably not completely well-informed. Still, it seems so logical and practical, I am unafraid to strike out on my own experimenting with the process. I will add my coffee grounds that I save as I've heard they provide a source of nitrogen. I may also add steer manure where I want to really enrich the soil. It is very cheap at KMart and where I used it last year, I find beautiful rich soil this year. Yes, there was an odor for awhile - a rather farm-like odor. But tolerable.

So there is the promised description. Today I must address my sprinkling system. A number of sprinkler heads were broken off in the winter time and one break in the line I've found so far. I need some new glue as my old can has pretty much congealed. One of these years I'll have someone dig up the entire system and do it right. But for now, I need to limp by the best I can with the comical system devised by my ex-husband.

Then I want to get flowers in the various pots around the yard.

When that is done, I will begin my lasagna gardening project. This will be done piecemeal as I collect newspapers and get grass clippings each week and will do a section with just what I have. It will certainly be a work in progress. I'll report back later.


Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

Thanks for this blog. I can see it working best in areas not yet converted to flower bed. And I might well use it around the rock garden area I will be working on.

But I think it would raise the soil level too high around pre-existing plantings like my flower bed I am currently trying to recover. Would like to figure out how to reduce weeds there and am considering landscape cloth and pine bark mulch.

Michael said...

That actually looks like one of my home lasagnas. I look forward to seeing and hearing how your experiment goes B.

Jacqueline said...

Oddly enough, this is making me hungry...

bekkieann said...

Hahaha, oh my, Michael and Jacqueline. You made me laugh.

I definitely will post progress reports on this. Now let's all go out for some pasta.