Written by Amy Grisak
Lasagna gardening sounds delicious just from the name, but it’s a great term for what others call “sheet composting” or composting in layers. In the end, it’s a fantastic method to create highly productive soil without much effort.
The name is from the book Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza. The beauty of this technique is it doesn’t involve digging, and you can leave the rototiller in the garage. In areas where topsoil is precious, it’s beneficial because you’re not removing sod and thereby a layer of soil. Plus, since you’re not turning under the soil, you don’t bring long-dormant weed seeds to the surface. It’s practical in every application.
Here’s a quick run down of how to go about it:
~ Spread cardboard or several layers of newspaper (only the black and white pages, not the color sections) over your soon-to-be garden area.
~ Soak it down very well.
~ Alternate layers of “green” and “brown” materials such as leaves, grass clippings (that haven’t been sprayed with herbicide), kitchen waste, coffee grounds, compost, peat moss and other normally composted items.
~ Soak this down well, too.
~ Give it time to “cook” and create a lovely, rich bed of the perfect planting medium.
I spoke with a local lady who likes to make her lasagna beds in the fall to allow them to process over the winter, but she said you can do them in the spring without a problem. She recommended pulling black plastic over the bed to help speed up the composting process, which is a good idea, particularly in windy or colder areas of the country.
Also, if you create a lasagna type bed in the spring, you’ll most likely have to add topsoil or compost to the top layer in order to seed in it. As the plants grow, the roots will work their way down into the composted material, and will grow like gangbusters in the fertile soil.
The nice thing about this method is it can be done anywhere. It’s a perfect way to fill raised beds. Or, if you’d like to create a bountiful island of veggies in the backyard, the lasagna garden is the way to go. It can even be replicated in containers.
Plus, weeding is an absolute breeze. You might have weeds simply because the seeds are broadcast by the wind, but because the soil is typically so light and fluffy, they pull without much effort. And if you keep mulch around the plants throughout the summer, it will make it even easier.
So go out there and make some lasagna!