I first heard about lasagna gardening in a writer’s group. One of our members, an Extension Master Gardener, was writing a news article about something she called lasagna gardening. Asked to help edit, I discovered that the term comes from Patricia Lanza’s 1994 book “Lasagna Gardening – A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!”
Sometimes called sheet composting, a technique of spreading organic matter on top of the soil before it has decomposed, then tilling it under, lasagna gardening is even simpler. Cardboard or newspaper makes up the first layer of garden. The advantage? You can lay this right on top of grass, weeds, and other assorted undesirables. On top of the newspaper, layer combinations of the following:
• Blood meal
• Coffee grounds – Starbucks gives these away for free
• Grass Clippings
• Fruit and Vegetable Scraps
• Peat moss
• Tea leaves and tea bags
• Weeds if they haven’t gone to seed
The experts say that to get the most out of layering, you should alternate layers of brown with layers of green – or carbon with nitrogen. Also, brown layers should be twice as deep as green layers. Aim for a 24-inch-deep bed, which will shrink in time. You can hurry up the ‘cook’ by covering the whole thing with black plastic.
So that’s theory and process. Simple enough, right? But a little over the top for my needs. I already have lovely raised beds, one of which is now empty. There used to be string beans in it before the rabbits came. Since then, I have nothing but weeds in that bed.
So today, we dug out the worst weeds since I don’t quite trust the newspaper to manage our vigorous Kansas weeds. On top of that went a single layer of the Miami County Republic – after we read it, of course.
On top of that went about four inches of dried grass clippings, which by themselves make for a splendid soil. Every bed covered with grass this past winter had dark, loamy soil to plant this spring.
So now I have two beds ready for fall sowing: broccoli and Brussel sprouts seeds at the end of the July and lettuces at the end of August. All for fall harvest. And while I’m waiting for that to grow, I’ll be getting my other beds ready for spring with the simplified lasagna.