What is Lasagna Gardening?
Despite the name, lasagna gardening isn’t directly related to making the delicious Italian dish. Nor is it anything to do with growing the ingredients to make a lasagna – well the tomatoes are possible, as is the garlic and herbs – but I think anyone would struggle growing pasta sheets in the garden!
Lasagna gardening, however, does have the potential of growing produce equally as delectable as any Italian cuisine. It is essentially a manner of composting that varies in its set up from the usual composting bin.
It does not require digging or a bin but it actually consists of the layering of compostable substances (think lasagna layers!) which eventually breaks down to form a planting patch.
Steps to create a Lasagna Garden
Pick your area and cover it over with newspaper or cardboard. You do not need to remove any grass or weeds that may be underneath as these will break down and form part of your lovely lasagna. You need a relatively thick layer so aim for around two layers of cardboard or five to seven layers of newspaper. Ensure that any products you use are fully compostable so no tapes, varnished box coatings, metal staples etc.
Once your initial layer is done – soak with water to kick off the process.
Next, in your lasagna recipe, you will need fully unprocessed products that you would ordinarily compost: consider grass cuttings, vegetable, and fruit peelings etc. These are known as the green materials.
The next layer in your Lasagna Garden set up should consist of compost or manure that is already broken down to allow your plants access to the nutrients. Do not add fresh manure as it contains high nitrogen that could be harmful to your plants especially flowers.
Next, you should add medium-sized logs preferable from a pine, maple, or oak trees and water to make it wet. This should be followed by kitchen waste such as veggies, egg shells, food waste, coffee grounds etc to add more nutrients to the soil.
After the green comes to the brown materials which are a layer of products such as dried leaves, straw, and more shredded newspaper and leaves.
You will need to alternate the green and brown layers until you reach a height of approximately twenty inches tall.
Leave your layers to work their magic.
When is the right time to plant with Lasagna Gardening?
Once you have set up your layers of sheet composting and nature gets to work by breaking it down and forming earthworms and other microbes, it may take up to 6 months to a year for all the materials to completely break down. You can then top up your Lasagna Garden with a layer of manure and other scraps to make it ready for your plants.
So you need to set up your garden ahead of the time you intend to plant. For example, you can start creating your lasagna garden in winter to make it ready for planting in summer. The more materials and ingredients gathered in the fall, the better for your lasagna garden is in the summer.
Ingredients for a Lasagna Garden
To create a good Lasagna Garden, you will need a bunch of materials or ingredients that essentially form up the compost pile in your garden. These materials or ingredients will break down to provide all the nutrients your plants need to grow. Here are some materials or ingredients that are great for your Lasagna Garden:
- Shredded Newspaper
- Shredded Leaves
- Vegetable scraps
- Fruit Peelings
- Tree Logs
- Coffee Grounds
- Grass or Lawn Clippings
- Organic Compost
- Organic Manure
- Peat Moss
- Wood Shavings
- Saw Dust
- Tea Bags
- Spent blooms and Trimmings
What are the Pros to Lasagna Gardening?
- No digging is required so this is the perfect project for anyone preferring a physically easier form of gardening.
- As you are composting directly on the area that you will be using – no nutrients are lost as they could be in a compost bin.
- This is much cheaper and less manual alternative to building raised beds.
- Lasagna Gardening is a great gardening method for the environment as it uses most of your household waste and essentially composting the waste materials to make a beautiful and well-nourished garden.
- If done correctly, the end result will be a beautifully nutritious and slack soil which will require less chemical or artificial fertilization.
- Lasagna Garden can be created in small and large spaces – it works great even in gardening containers.
- Lasagna Garden is made up of several compost layers stacked to a desirable height which is great if you have a backache or difficulty bending down.
What are the Cons to Lasagna Gardening?
- You will need to plan ahead more than with other types of bed creation. It is best to start building layers in the autumn so that full decomposition should have taken place by the spring.
- Regular composting occurs due to the intense heat created by the weight and density of the components. With the lasagna layers being a lot smaller and lighter by nature, decomposition can take longer.
- As you will not be mixing the layers as you would with a traditional composting method, you will ideally need to build the entire lasagna all at once to ensure that decomposition takes place all at relatively the same time. Therefore you will need to have all your components ready to go ahead of starting which can involve needing a tremendous amount of green and brown materials all in one go.
- As your lasagna will decompose at a slower rate than a more commonplace compost pile this can lead to a noticeable increase in slugs and snails due to the extended wet and soggy composting stage.
- Lasagna gardening requires a significant amount of labour especially at the early stages which include gathering materials or ingredients as well as stacking them up properly to form your garden.
Lasagna Gardening is widely known to be a cheap and easy method which mimics mother nature to form a garden bed. It allows you to make good use of your household waste which is why I personally love Lasagna Gardening. However, as with all other gardening methods, Lasagna Gardening has its downside which includes decomposition time and labour. Overall, the pros outweigh the cons as you get to have more nutritious and delicious yields!
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