Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lasagne Gardening - 1st attempt

Turns out this isn't rocket science. Took me about half an hour to do this space that is about 10 ft long x 4 ft wide. I have a big space to do, and this used almost all of the grass clippings I had saved. However, this will be a summerlong project and I will generate many more bags of clippings to contribute to the project.

I this area I am trying to reclaim my "Myrtle Hill" that is basically wasted space in an upper triangle of my yard by the street. We had intended to just fill it with lovely myrtle that, once filled in, is very low maintenance. Problem is, before the divorce, the sprinkling system started to go, and the ex just sealed off lines and let some areas die. Here in the myrtle patch I have some lush full areas, and other areas that are taken over with wild grasses and weeds. My goal is to pull out all the grasses and weeds, lay down my lasagna mulch, and where needed, fill in empty spots with volunteer myrtle plants of which I have plenty!
Today's Trivia Question: What do you call plants that start on their own from parent plants nearby?

If you said "volunteers", you speak my language. My friend from Brooklyn said she had never heard of plants "volunteering" and she's quite sure it's just a Utah thing. It might be. So, gentle readers, is this a term you use where you live?
Here's where I started. This is a particularly bad area, more weeds than myrtle. The hill is fairly steep here. Spent a little time pulling weeds first.

Here's more of the area I plan to do. I know, pretty ambitious. But it's like eating the elephant -- you do it a bite at a time.

Step 1, put down newspapers. I put them down in whole sheets, tearing where needed to fit around existing plants. I know a guy who shreds his newspaper and tills it into his garden. It's another option. One thing: don't use the shiny coated color ads and these will not break down easily. send those to the recycler. Just use the ordinary newsprint paper (color ink is ok).
I wet the newspaper down as it was a little breezy and it was hard to keep in place..

Step 2. Peat moss. I just tossed shovels full all over the newspaper and then spread it a little by hand. Notice the can of coffee grounds here -- I sprinkled those in at this layer. Wet everything down with the hose.

Step 3. Grass clippings. Now this would have been much easier if I hadn't had these bagged up for a week. But I had, and they were already very wet and fermenting. Hoo boy, it was sort of like going straight to manure but bypassing the steer. Next time I'll use my clippings right away while they are dry and easy to handle. There was no need to water down this layer.

Steps 4,5 and 6 would be peat moss, then chopped leaves, followed by another layer of peat moss, but my leaves all went out with the trash before I had read this article. Next fall I'll have leaves for such a layer. My step 4 was just another layer of peat moss, spread over everything and watered down good.

It already looks like rich black soil where once was a sandy weedy patch. It's not too hard, but it would make more sense not to do it at noon on a hot day. I'll go out again at 4 to do another patch of this size. Over the summer, I'll put up pics of areas as I get them completed.


Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

I have heard the term volunteer. Mother used to use it and she was from the Midwest. Course a lot of the "base population" of Utah was from Illinois and Missouri where there were Mormon settlements before going west so doesn't prove anything.

And when I was there visiting it seemed all the residents in the south part of the state had Arkansas accents. Seems they settled there after the civil war.

bekkieann said...

I looked it up in, not expecting to find it there, but it was the 5th definition.

5. Agriculture. a volunteer plant.

Jacqueline said...

Hi Bekkie,

Well, I'm glad it wasn't as difficult nor as time consuming as you thought it might be. It always good when something turns out to be even simpler than we had hoped. I guess because it happens so least for

It's looking good!

Hope your weekend is going well. :)

Michael said...

I stand in awe of your industry B.
I haven't heard the word used as you describe.
To be honest, anything that 'volunteered' to be planted in my garden deserved a big, shiny medal up
I'm sure it is going to look just fine.

bekkieann said...

Hi Jacqueline, thanks for your good wishes. I spent the morning weeding and the afternoon tending my two little grandsons ages 6 and 2. They are my reward for my hard work. I hope you have had a lovely Sunday as well.

bekkieann said...


Isn't it the truth. Those hard-working plants that not only bloom and look beautiful, but reproduce and give you more free plants deserve some sort of honor. I'll probably be doing a post on the amazing Jupiter's Beard that is the star performer both in terms of reproduction and staying green and retaining blooms.

The other volunteers I get are Russian Sage (wonderful for my area), day lilies, and, of course, the myrtle that wants to take over everything. With those fellows, it's all about setting strict boundaries.

I'm going back out for for weeding now that the boys have gone home. More pictures later.