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Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.

~Elizabeth Murray~

Stop Digging: Lasagna Gardening 101

Are you one of people who think that they can’t have a garden because they don’t have the ability to dig or they don’t have a tiller to turn the soil? Or do you know someone who thinks like that? There are suggested solutions for those obstacles: raised beds or planting in straw bales makes for less bending without digging or tilling required. But, by far, our favorite choice is the method known as “lasagna gardening" or “sheet composting.”

Patricia Lanza literally wrote the book on lasagna gardening and describes the method in detail. Once you understand the principles, though, you can easily create a layered garden that requires no digging, little weeding and certainly no tilling. You can also even out rough or lumpy areas in your yard and turn them into gorgeous gardens.

In my own yard, there is a rough, bumpy space about 10 feet by 20 feet, where I had raised beds that were poorly placed and eventually removed. All the soil remained, resulting in a weedy mess that the lawn mower couldn’t even go over. I decided to go ahead and plant on the humped up soil that had once been raised beds, and to try out the lasagna method on the lower areas that had been walkways between the raised beds. Follow my progress on the Green Thumbs Galore fb pages.

Hereís the basic method:

  • Put down cardboard or newspaper to squish down the weeds. The cardboard serves as the first layer of your “lasagna.”
  • Soak the newspaper or cardboard thoroughly.
  • Create your next layers from leaf mulch, grass clippings, compost, newspaper, fire ashes, peat moss and other organic material.
  • Keep layering until the cardboard is under about two feet of layered organic material.
  • Wet everything until it is quite damp - like a wet sponge.
  • Let the whole thing rest for at least a month.
  • Plant your seedlings or seeds without disturbing the cardboard.
You will find many fewer weeds and no need to break up hard-packed dirt or dig up giant clumps of grass or weeds. The layers slowly break down, creating ultra-rich soil. In the fall, after harvesting, add a few more layers and let your lasagna rest over the winter. One of the big benefits of lasagna gardening, though, is the reduction of back breaking work, so having to pull fewer weeds and no need for digging fits in perfectly with my style of gardening.

Taking a close look at the ground in a forest, it's easy to see that Mother Nature prefers lasagna gardening too. It makes perfect sense that a method that imitates what happens in nature should work so well in the garden. Making sure the top layer of your bed is thick mulch - like the thick layer of leaves on finds on the forest floor - will help hold in water and that the microbes and earthworms can do their work on your layers.

By the next growing season everything will have broken down and composted and spring planting season greets you with a bed of dark, nutrient packed soil. You can continue adding layers each year in order to keep building the soil, or you can add compost each time you plant. Either way, replacing the nutrients that plants need will keep your garden productive and happy.

I have found that working in small sections makes lasagna gardening even easier. Lots of times, reading about different gardening methods feels intimidating. Sometimes I will read an article and decide that unless I get a degree in botany or agriculture there is little hope I could ever make the “method” work. However, spreading organic matter in layers is simple enough that even I can do it!


June 19th is Father's Day

Garden Decor:
Wind Chimes :
Seeded Gift Wrap: