Lasagna gardening or sheet composting is a way that one can garden without commitment. This type of gardening is easy to set up and just as easy to tear down. And if the garden is removed it leaves the gardening environment better than it was before.
To start a lasagna garden one must map out where the garden will be located. Stake out the boundaries and outline with twine. Now it is time to build the lasagna garden. Lay three layers of black and white print newspaper or one layer of brown corrugated cardboard directly onto the sod and water in. This layer will kill the grass in a couple of weeks and will jump start the decomposition process. This layer will also create a dark, damp haven for earthworms that will aid in loosing up the soil.
The next layer will be a green layer. This layer can contain vegetable scraps, grass clippings, and garden trimmings. Following this green layer one will need to add a brown layer, which consists of, shredded black and white print, peat, fall leaves, manure, and pine needles. Continue with this pattern making the brown layer twice as deep as the green layer until the lasagna garden is two-feet-tall.
A lasagna garden can be started anytime but fall is the best time. It gives the ingredients of the lasagna garden time to set, mix, and break down. But if done in the spring or summer make sure that more “soil-like” amendments are added to the garden. This addition will help to make the garden ready to plant into sooner. If the lasagna garden is created in the spring, do as many brown and green layers separated by “soil-like” amendments, which includes compost, peat and/or topsoil as you can. Finish the spring lasagna garden with three to four inches of compost or topsoil.
Planting in the lasagna garden is easy. Just dig a hole and plant. If newspapers were used for the first layer the shovel will easily break through the surface but if corrugated cardboard was used, the bottom layer will be a little bit harder to dig through. Once planted maintain the lasagna garden by adding mulch to the top. Straw, bark mulch, grass clippings, and/or chopped leaves make up this mulch layer.
After the gardening season is over, continue to layer the lasagna garden using the brown and green layers described above.
Lasagna gardening gives any gardener another tool to put in their personal gardening bag of tricks. It saves the gardener time by reducing weeds, requires less water and fertilizer while allowing the gardener to change their mind anytime. It also creates an opportunity for a gardener to compost without a composter and makes a better environment all the way around through the creation of healthy soil and a reduced carbon footprint.
So give lasagna gardening a try. Outdora offers many products that can help with this type of garden form. These range from hand tools, to lawn mowers, garden carts, and long handled tools such as spades, forks, shovels, cultivators, and rakes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mindy McIntosh-Shetter has been an Agricultural Science educator, and is a horticulture and/or environmental blogger who earned a degree from Purdue University in Agriculture Education with a minor in biology, and natural resources. Presently she is finishing up her Masters in Environmental Education and Urban Planning for the University of Louisville while working on her own agriculture/environmental blog.