By Jannie Vaugh
The pollen is drifting through the air, we had a wind storm and rain which nourished the gardens causing some damage lower to the ground but some older trees had a natural pruning. As with all spring projects I am behind on everything. The tomatoes need attending and the feeding schedule is a bit off, but “slow and steady gets the job done.”
Today the main topic will be No-Till, Lasagna gardening. With all the pressure of slow delivery to stores and the pressure to Stock-up every day, the growth of some food movements is at a peak. For first-time gardeners or those who want to grow and have small space, this method will get you growing. There is a book Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza that has been around since 1998. I do use this method in some areas of our existing garden, especially if there is grass, weeds, and low-quality “dirt” that needs to be brought to viable soil. Let’s nutshell it. Choose the location, sunny close to a water source and even partial sun. Gather cardboard, and remove all the tape and stickers as best you can. Water the area so it is good and wet. Layer the cardboard in a good layer. Wet the cardboard. If you do not wet the layers they will not break down and remain dry. Now to gather the layers of the lasagna. The key ingredients in any layered garden are organic materials. Peat moss, animal manures, shredded or last winter’s leaves, and other mulches, grass clippings from the catch basket of your mower, coffee grounds, and compost and wood ashes. Now start layering and wet every layer. In the first layer, you need something heavy to hold down the cardboard. This can be a mixed manure layer with some soil. If you are using grass hay make sure it is not sprayed with a long-term broadleaf herbicide. Then make a green layer such as grass clippings, and garden trimmings, then keep the layers going brown, green some soil, some wood ashes, compost, or even a layer of wet newspaper. top with a compost layer and keep this all wet. Now let it “cook”. This can be a short time if you want to get going soon.
To plant have a potting mix ready and your transplants or seeds. Cut into the layers and cut into the cardboard. Make a hole through the layers for the transplant. Place potting soil into the hole then your transplant. Not all seeds will work in this deep layer method but potatoes and squash and watermelon seem to work well. Remember we have a long hot growing season and if this is stated now your chances of growing a garden will improve, this will also work with containers and buckets. This deep layer method will eventually smother out the grass and weeds and the cardboard will eventually break down. Keeping this layering going after a few seasons you will see a rich dark fluffy soil appear! And all without digging or weeding. There are some other methods that use wood chips and deep hay but I have not found them to be as fast and productive as the lasagna method. Remember to use a feeding and watering system through the growing season and in late fall I do a leaf and manure layer and will cover it with burlap to let it “cook” through the fall and winter. You will see worms and microbe activity.
For some of us, the cost of purchasing all the ingredients for a garden can be prohibitive. Just take some time and look around at what you have, or connect with other gardeners that can offer materials and advice. Gardening is a community effort and the more we grow the less pressure of empty shelves can offer some peace of mind.
Growing Green, With Jannie