It has been a busy couple of weeks here at Happy Acres. One thing I have been doing is adding on to the kitchen garden space near the greenhouse. I have two goals here – first to increase the amount of growing space and second to reduce the amount of lawn to be mowed.
To save time and effort, I decided to experiment with lasagna gardening. For those unfamiliar with the method, the term “lasagna gardening” has nothing to do with lasagna you eat! It refers to the no-till no-dig method used to create the garden, which is made by adding layers of organic material on top of the ground to form a raised bed, much as one would layer the ingredients in a pan of lasagna.
Any organic materials can be used, including straw, leaves, grass clippings and shredded paper. Basically, anything that can go on a compost pile can be used to build a lasagna garden. Lasagna gardening is not a new idea, as this 1999 Mother Earth News article shows.
Fall is a great time to create a lasagna garden, since it is often a good time to find a lot of organic materials like leaves, lawn clippings and yard waste. Also, the layers will have all winter to break down and settle.
I wanted to expand my growing area to have more room for carrots and onions, so I extended the area right in front of an existing 4×4 foot bed. The new bed is about 4×5 foot. I started by laying several thicknesses of wet newspaper right on top of the sod. I covered the paper with some aged wheat straw.
Since I was making my beds in early spring, I included a lot more soil-like ingredients like compost and peat moss in the bed. I layered them as I built up the bed to a thickness of about 7-8 inches. I added some limestone to counteract the acidity of the peat moss, and worked in some organic fertilizer. To finish the bed, I used some leftover concrete pavers to edge it and keep the soil in place.
I let the bed settle for about 3 weeks before planting. The finished depth was about 5 inches. I’m planting onions in the bed this year, so the large bed should keep us well supplied with scallions and onions for storage. I’ll also sow some beets there for greens and roots.
I started building another larger bed for growing potatoes this year. I want to experiment with growing potatoes in mulch, and compare that with potatoes grown with the more traditional method of hilling with soil. I made this bed about 4 feet wide by 30 feet long.
I’ll plant the seed potatoes on top of the paper, and cover with compost, straw, and leaves as the potato vines grow. I saved some of the almost-finished organic material when I last turned my compost piles and it should be ideal for this bed. By the end of the growing season I will hopefully have a bed of rich soil for planting in years to come, plus a nice haul of potatoes.
If you’d like to create a new gardening area with a minimum of work and maximum results, you might want to give lasagna gardening a try!