The leaves are falling, which means lots of organic material for your garden. Fall is a great time to start layering your lasagna garden when organic materials are readily available from fallen leaves in your yard or your neighbors’.
Lasagna gardening is a no-dig, no-till, organic gardening method which turns layers of materials like kitchen waste, straw, shredded paper, and newspapers into rich, healthy compost. This might possibly be the simplest way to garden and uses stuff that you would normally throw away. One of the best things about lasagna gardening is how easy it is. You don’t have to remove existing sod or weeds. You don’t have to dig or till. You don’t have to move compost. Essentially, you are layering and composting in place, and then planting and growing your garden in the compost.
The first step for making your lasagna garden should consist of a layer of brown corrugated cardboard or 3-4 layers of newspaper or shredded office paper laid directly on top of the grass or weeds in the area chosen for your garden. Wet this layer well to keep everything in place. The moisture will also start the decomposing process. The grass or weeds will die and break down quickly since they will be covered by the wet newspaper or cardboard, as well as by the materials you layer on top. The paper or cardboard layer also provides a dark, moist area to attract earthworms that will loosen up the soil as they chomp through it.
Next, spread 1-2 inches of “green” material on the newspaper or cardboard. Green material includes items such as vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, grass clippings, and plant trimmings free of seeds and disease. The next layer should be 1-2 inches of “brown” material such as leaves, straw, cardboard, sawdust, shredded paper or old newspaper. Do not use full color newspaper, just the black print.
Keep alternating the green and brown layers until you reach a height of 2-3 feet. It will seem pretty tall, but will continually shrink as your lasagna turns into compost. Unlike a compost pile, you will not need to mix, stir or turn the lasagna garden.
You can start making your lasagna garden any time of the year, but it will take about 12 months for the lasagna to turn into crumbly, loose and nutrient rich soil. To speed up the process, simply combine more soil layers to the bed, such as peat or topsoil. Layer as many greens and browns as you can with layers of finished compost, peat or topsoil. Top your lasagna bed with 3-4 inches of finished compost or topsoil, then you are ready to plant. The lasagna garden bed will settle some as the layers decompose.
There are many benefits from having a lasagna garden.
- No digging or tilling.
- Fewer weeds because the cardboard or newspaper on the bottom will suppress them.
- Better water retention since the compost you make will hold water better than store bought garden soil.
- The soil will be easier to work since it will be loose and fluffy.
- The lasagna garden is mostly pure compost, which is very nutrient rich, so less need for fertilizers.
Maintaining your lasagna garden is the same as with any other garden – weed and water as needed.