No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding :)
A Garden of Layers
Lasagna Gardening is a nontraditional organic gardening method that relies on a layering method called "sheet composting." The name "Lasagna," comes from the way garden beds are created from layers, the same way you layer ingredients when making a pan of lasagna. Watering and weeding are reduced through the heavy layers of mulch and by planting crops close together. The lasagna layering method quickly builds soils that are incredibly rich in nutrients, resulting in higher than average garden productivity. The method also works great for container gardening.
What Makes It Different
Thick layers of organic mulch are the main ingredients of every lasagna garden. Chopped leaves, grass clippings, straw, hay, sawdust, wood ash, compost, animal manure, newspaper, etc., are just some of the materials that might made up the layers of a lasagna garden. Individual materials will vary in each individual's garden according to what is available locally.
How Do You Make a Lasagna Garden?
To make a lasagna garden you stake out your garden site and begin building up the beds layer by layer. The first layer involves laying down something heavy over sod, like thick pads of newspaper or flattened cardboard boxes, to kill the existing grass. The next layer should consist of 2-3 inches of a water absorbent material like coir, or peat moss. I recommend coir because of the growing environmental damage caused by extracting peat from bogs. Next, a 4-8 inch layer of organic material, such as compost, is spread over the coir layer. Another layer of coir, or a peat alternative would be added on top of that, and then yet another layer of organic material, like grass clippings on top of the coir, and on and on until the beds reach 18-24 inches high. Finally, the tops of the piles may be sprinkled lightly with bone meal and wood ash for added phosphorus and potassium.
"Baking" the Beds
At this point, some gardeners elect to "cook" their lasagna gardens (give the layers of mulch time to breakdown). This reduces the height of the beds and produces high-quality workable soil more quickly. Cooking the beds is optional, but certainly not necessary. One of the greatest advantages to the lasagna gardening method is that you can layer your beds and plant your crops all in the same day.
Planting a Lasagna Garden
When you're planting a lasagna garden, no digging is required. For transplants, simply pull back the layers of mulch, drop in the plant and pull some mulching materials back over the roots. Sowing seeds is easy, too. Sprinkle a little finished compost over the area you want to plant, sow the seed, and cover it with a little more of the finished compost. Press down on the bed to secure the seeds and water thoroughly. It's that easy!
Because it uses no power tools, heavy equipment or expensive commercial additives, lasagna gardening is an easy way for people with space, age or physical limitations to maintain garden productivity. For more information on this easy, stress-free method of organic gardening, read Patricia Lanza's book, Lasagna Gardening, available at Lasagna Gardening
About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web