I have a large flower garden in my backyard that had become overgrown with weeds, grass, and plants I didn't really care for. I've been gearing up to do a complete overhaul on it. And so Saturday became the appointed day.
Several years ago I read a fascinating gardening book called, Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza. It revolutionized gardening for me. I always wanted beautiful gardens but I really didn't know how to go about having them. It all seemed so intimidating. This book is a very easy read and it just makes so much sense and it is a very easy approach to having great soil which in turn grows great plants. The basic premise is that you choose any area you want for a garden bed. You don't have to dig it up or turn the soil over or even pull the weeds or existing plants. You simply lay newspaper over the top of it. And wet it down. Then you use a "lasagna" technique by layering several organic layers until you have a deep pile. Then you simply leave it over the winter to "bake". No kidding - it really does work. I tried it on a very small garden area a couple of years ago to be sure it was going to work. And it did! The little garden patch I tried it on truly has the best soil on our property. And it has incredible earth worms in it which is a very good sign that it is good soil. So I decided it was time to employ the technique on my larger garden in the backyard. Here is what I started with:See, I wasn't kidding - it has completely overgrown with spreading grass and weeds and I could no longer control it. So I spread out newspaper all over the top of it like this:Be sure and use only the black and white sections - not the glossy colored ads. Then Chuck (that's my husbands name, I'm not sure I've ever told you that) gave me some old moldy hay that is not good for the horses. So we spread a layer of that.And then we did a layer of leaves of which we have an abundance of at this time of the year. If you get really going with this lasagna gardening you might want to take all your neighbors leaves too!Next I did a layer of compost. I am especially proud of my compost pile. I don't use any fancy barrels or boxes, I just found a piece of ground that is out of the way. And every time we mow the yard or rake the leaves we dump it here. I also save all my vegetable peelings, coffee filters and grounds, paper towels, egg shells, etc, and add them to the pile every few days. Don't include meat products or you will have rodents. And we don't like rodents. At least I don't. Tip: Sometimes I get coffee grounds from a restaurant in our town that saves them in 5-gallon buckets - it is a great acidic additive to soil. Here is a picture of my compost pile.The left side is my new compost and the right side is where I was digging the older compost this weekend. We layered it on the garden like this:If you don't have room for a compost pile or you don't have enough you can also buy peat moss - it's basically the same thing. I did that for my smaller garden because I hadn't started composting yet. Reading the Lasagna Gardening book is what got me started composting. And as an added bonus, when you have three of these:you have a lot of this. In our neck of the woods it is called several different things, horse hockey, horse apples, black gold - you get the ideaSo I was doing A LOT of this:which is why my muscles are really sore today! And these guysdon't have any sore muscles. They just watched us all day.
We also mowed the lawn and used all our grass clippings like this:and I got excited when I realized we could empty out our fire pit and use the ashes - that would be great added acidity to the soil.I was so appreciative that Chuck helped me. He did all the heavy work.And I opened all the gates - hey, somebody had to!So here is my garden bed "baking" for the winter. I kept layering until I ended up with about 12 layers of organic materials on it.I can keep adding to it as we mow the lawn and rake our leaves. You can plant in the spring or you can plant now. I am going to go ahead and plant my tulips and daffodils in it this week so they will come up in the spring. I am going to put strawberries in the spring along with a few flowering bushes. I'm going to try to keep it as low maintenance as I can.
Whew! This turned out to be a long post. But I just love lasagna gardening and I wanted to share all about it. Patricia Lanza's book has lots of other good information in it as well. You don't have to use all the materials I did - you use what you have and what you can get a hold of. And I definitly prefer to use what I don't have to pay for! Just keep layering - that's the secret.
And I don't think it is strange at all that I have added lasagna to the dinner menu this week as well!