Monday, January 25

Save Your Back - Use Lasagna Gardening for Flowers & Vegetables

Lasagna Gardening Done in Half a Day
Springtime is just around the corner and it's time to think about planting in our gardens or, if you're new to this, getting a garden started. You've seen my container garden (more about how to do the same thing in plastic tubs, later), but I wanted you to see just how easy it is to lay out a whole new garden -- with no digging! It's called Lasagna Gardening and you can find a book by Patricia Lanza here. Even though I found it hard to believe, I bought the book back in '98 and it changed my gardening, forever!
At left, you see my results after just 5-1/2 weeks. Beautiful loam just waiting for my 'birthing sheets'.

This is really a case of pictures telling a story that's easy to follow and then, do it yourself! Just so happened I
was teaching a community group how to do this and decided to take progression pictures. These three beds were done in one afternoon by this little old lady. So, if I can do it, so can you young whipper-snappers!

You can use cardboard or newspaper (at least four sheets, NO glossy paper) for the layer over your ground. Keep any exposed newspaper damp so that the wind doesn't send it flying over your yard! This was in late February and my grass turns brown in the winter so it's hard to see that the surface really is just grass, with no digging. I'm trellising some vegetables here, so I set up the pvc pipe to locate the bed to make sure there was plenty of room. Since you can't run decorative grasses through the chipper, decided to let God take care of it in His own way.  Did cut it up in 15" to 20" lengths, but am not sure I'd do it, again. Just lay it down.

I've watered between layering to help the transformation. Located a riding stable in my area and they were more than happy to share the 'black gold," as long as I was willing to collect it myself. The best horse manure has been aged. When you can carry two full 13-gallon plastic bags in each hand with no trouble, you know you've got some serious black gold. It's ready to do the job and there's no smell -- an excellent combination.

Here you can see the differences in the layers and the height of the finished section. These are the only layers required for a Lasagna garden, but you can go a bit further and spread layers of bone meal, green sand, Epsom salts, blood meal, and multi-purpose fertilizer, and lime, if you want. I do use those in my large container gardens, but it's not required.  BUT, if you plan on planting potatoes do NOT use lime.

While the garden was doing its thing, I was busy constructing some 8" edging boards to keep it a little more contained than its natural sprawling tendencies. Rainy days and some light snow kept reducing the height but it also helped the garden to stretch its wings.

In Under Six Weeks, You've Got a Ten-Year Old Garden

You have to see this to believe it, but here it is just 5-1/2 weeks, later. Beautiful, rich, loamy soil, just waiting for your favorite vegetables or flowers. You can see that the pampas grass is just about gone. 

This is a second bed to the right of the above garden for trellised vegetables. It started at 24+ inches and is now just about level with the 8-inch boards. It's a miracle, a dad-blamed miracle -- and is also perfect for those of you with rocky soils.

This final corner garden was extended another three feet for balance. I'm using both garden number two and three for my 'orchard' and strawberry bed. The semi-dwarf trees are set in according to harvest: cherry, apricot-almond, peach, nectarine, prune-plum, and apple. The strawberry bed is in the bed of the first three fruit trees. (Will have pix of these gardens in a later blog.) The corner garden will also have some berry bushes put in this year.) Planting the trees in this finished soil took all of an hour, at my leisure. Don't even talk about the gool old days!

Lasagna Gardening is Perfect Solution to Poor Soils and Elderly
Not sure I should put poor soils and elderly in the same sentence (poor souls?) but a truth is a truth. If your yard has bad soil, very rocky conditions, granite under the fresh sod, lasagna gardening is perfect for you. Your creating your soil bed and it will only get better as you 'refresh' it, occasionally.

Lasagna gardening is perfect for the elderly -- well, any gardeners, for that matter -- because there's so little work or heavy lifting involved. Could you do this to a full acre garden? Probably not, unless, of course, you have some help in laying down all that excess cardboard and newspaper, and ask your friends and neighbors for their grass clippings and autumn leaves, etc. One of my friends just knows I'm coming after her leaves in the fall. You just can't help thinking of new garden spots.  The point is, the hard digging is a thing of the past. Your garden is done, depending on garden size, in less than half a day, and the end result is something that would normally take ten to twelve years to develop, naturally.

Now that you've seen what I've done, check out how peakoilhausfrau, one of the bloggers I follow, has carried it to a new level and brought it to her community. They've made a prize out of building a lasagna garden for someone!  Too cool.

So, don't be afraid. There's nothing more delicious than your very own fresh fruit and garden vegetables. With today's recession causing more people to return to cooking at home, how wonderful to be able to combine old patterns with new technology. Start small. Believe me, you'll grow, right along with your vegetables! Let me know how it turns out.


  1. Dear Sharlene,

    This post will get me back on track. The work on transforming the lawn into an edible garden has been so much fun, I started in the smallest way this past fall. My compost is stalled though. I would do well to study this.

    Thank you.

  2. Thank you for dropping by and the kind words. We are still in snow here;sounds like fun.

  3. WOW! Very cool! Lasagna gardening... love the name! I had never heard of this technique! I will have to try it!!

    Thanks for sharing it! And thanks for stopping by my blog! (The Coffee Shop)


  4. Fantastic way to garden for those with small spaces too! I love this idea! Thanks for I could JUST get a green thumb so easily.

  5. Wow~ you were busy on Saturday! Happy SITS Sunday!


  6. Powderate: How's that garden coming along. Thanks for stopping by.
    Sage, Paloma, Christina: Time to test your mettle and build!
    Tara: It's an ideal way to garden for small spaces. Hope you give it a try.
    Tanya: Hello SITSta. Glad you could stop by.

    Y'all come back, now; hear!

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