Many homeowners get much joy and satisfaction from planning and planting their own gardens. Some choose to plant a vegetable garden while other plan a colorful flower garden. One thing many gardeners have in common is the fact they do not have the time or ability to prepare the soil for a garden. Traditional garden require removing the existing grass, stones and tree roots to give plants a good growing ground. Other requirements include tilling or turning the soil and adding compost – all of which can be difficult and time consuming work. Most gardeners look to create an organic garden because chemical fertilizers and growing aids can be harmful to you, your family, friends, guests, pets and local wildlife. While all of this work to plant a garden may seem daunting, there is an alternative – Lasagna Gardening.

What is Lasagna Gardening?

Lasagna gardening involves creating layers on top of the existing ground regardless of how rocky, sandy or grassy the area may be. Lasagna gardening involves creating layers – hence the name lasagna gardening. Adding a variety of layers in a garden create a soil that is packed full of nutrients, which are great for your plants. A lasagna garden needs to be prepared two to three months prior to planting your flowers or vegetables.

Preparing to Create a Lasagna Garden

Drive stakes into the ground where you are planning to make your garden. It doesn’t have to be a perfectly staked out area – just a general size and shape.

Lay a thick layer of newspaper or thick cardboard over the ground within the confines of the stakes. If you are using newspaper, lay down 12 to 15 sheets of newspaper as a base. Overlap the edges of the newspaper or cardboard to prevent weeds and unwanted plants from popping up through the ground into your garden.

Optional Lasagna Gardening Idea

After laying the cardboard or newspaper layer on the ground, consider creating a rock, brick, stone or wood wall around the garden. It looks nice and it will help to keep your lasagna garden in place where you want it.

Sprinkle the cardboard with water from a garden hose to thoroughly wet the paper material, but not saturate it.

Cover newspaper or cardboard with a 1 to 1 ½ inch thick layer of cow manure.

Add another layer of newspaper or cardboard over the cow manure.

Cover the cardboard or newspaper with a 2 inch layer of peat moss.

Lightly wet the peat moss with water from a garden hose.

Add a 4 to 6 inch thick layer of brown leaves or dried grass clippings.

Add a 4 to 6 inch layer of mixed saved kitchen items and green grass or green leaves. Kitchen items include coffee grounds, egg shells or vegetable peels. You can basically use any plant type material from the kitchen. Do not use meat products, fats or oils.

Add a 2 inch layer of peat moss.

Wet the peat moss with a spray of water from a garden hose.

Continue to add 4 to 6 inch layers of dried leaves or grass clipping, then a 4 to 6 inch layer of kitchen items and green grass and leaves followed by a 1 inch layer of peat moss until the lasagna reaches 24 to 26 inches thick. The lasagna will become thinner and thinner as the materials decompose.

Lightly sprinkle wood ash and bone meal over the top. Sprinkle the layers with water.

 Leave the layers and let them compost for eight to 12 weeks. Only water the layers if it is extremely dry in your area. Keep the layers lightly wet – do not saturate.

 Time to Plant Your Garden

Check the layers in a small area to make sure the lasagna is ready for planting.   To test the layers – stick a pitchfork or shovel deep into the layers and turn – only in a small spot. If you see whole leaves or large pieces of newspaper or cardboard – your lasagna is not ready for planting. Planting at this point will kill your plants because the composting materials generate too much heat and will burn the roots of the plants. If you do not see any large pieces of leaves, grass newspaper or other materials – you are ready to plant.

Planting Your Garden

Make small holes in the layers with a handheld shovel, large enough to accommodate the plants you are putting in.

If you are planting seeds, poke your finger into the composting material and sow your seeds.

Water as indicated by the type of plants you are growing. Note the fact the layers tend to become dryer faster than traditional soil.

The Good and Bad of Lasagna Gardening

Good -- Lasagna gardens offer a very rich soil in which plants can grow.

Bad – They require preparation and a two to three month lead time.

Good – Offers a great way to go green, stay organic and get big, green healthy plants and flowers.

 Bad – It takes time and effort to create a lasagna garden – but it is all worthwhile in the end.

The benefits of a lasagna garden definitely outweigh extra work or effort.

Lasagna Gardening Tips

Throughout the year save carrot or potato peels, leftover vegetables and fruits so long as there is no added butter margarine or flavorings. Place the peels and leftovers in a zip lock bag and store in your freezer for later use. Save cobs from corn.

Save your used tea bags and used coffee grounds. No need to remove the tea from the bags – the bags will decompose. Place the used tea and coffee into a tightly lidded container or a large zippered plastic bag in the freezer.

Save egg shells as you use them and place them in a large zippered bag and place them in the freezer.

Soon you will collect a great amount of nutrient rich items for your lasagna garden. Consider asking friends and family members to save their scraps for you too.

Never place diseased plant leaves such as roses that have black spot or powdery mildew because you will spread the disease to your garden.

Never use poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac or other “poison” type plants or vines in the lasagna layers or you will end up cultivating the “poison” plants.

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