Lasagna Gardening Layers

Forget your broad fork, turn off that tiller, and stop all that weeding!

One of my favorite quotes is: “Just because it’s always been done this way, doesn’t mean it’s the best way.” The “it”, in this case, is about digging and tilling the soil for gardening.

Yep, you can put those mattocks and hoes away!

Digging takes a lot of work. Now we’re not afraid of hard work, and the exercise benefits are good for your body. But gardeners are also a practical bunch and there’s a whole slew of reasons why one would rather just get on with the planting. Many people tell us they have back problems that get in the way of their gardening. Also, as people age they may not want to spend so much energy digging, hoeing, raking and shoveling dirt. Whether for you it’s any of these reasons, or that you just want to save time, this is good news.

You may have heard of the benefits of straw bale garden method, which we are in our second season implementing. There’s also the “no dig” method.1)https://www.gardensall.com/benefits-straw-bale-gardening-hacks-how-to/

 

Lasagna Layering Garden – No Dig, No Till

Hey… we’re all for saving time and labor! If there’s an easier way to get great results for thriving garden, then why not try it?

The no-dig gardening method is almost a mix of lasagna gardening, where you layer dirt and compost, and raised bed gardening, where you build a structure.

The key differences: you’re layering non-dirt material (compost, peat moss, leaves, paper) as opposed to dirt and compost. You don’t have to build a raised bed to employ no-dig gardening, but for best results, it’s a good idea to have some sort of structure to contain the garden space.

There are other benefits to raised bed gardening which we’ve discussed in other articles. For now we’ll move onto layered gardening.2)https://www.gardensall.com/the-ultimate-raised-garden-bed-permaculture-with-hugelkultur/3)https://www.gardensall.com/raised-garden-beds-style-function/

Layer Gardening

 

WVUnewspaper
Image from WV University

Image and reference source: West Virginia University4)http://greenthumbs.cedwvu.org/factsheets/lasagna.php

Making Dirt

Yep, with lasagna gardening, you are actually creating your own garden soil from scratch. Instead of tilling the ground and sprinkling amendments into the soil, you’re building it up with materials that will compost into rich soil for growing plants.

Sheet Mulching or Sheet Composting

Lasagna gardening, also called sheet composting or sheet mulching, mimics mother nature. This easy gardening method is similar to the permaculture or hugelkultur5)https://www.gardensall.com/hugelkultur-best-raised-garden/  approach of mimicking how nature layers of materials in the woods.

With layered garden beds, we can speed up the process of composting while building fertile soil in layers. With this approach, plants choose the best layer medium to thrive in, while being nourished from all of them.

Lasagna Gardening Layers

There’s more than one way to make lasagna. Same thing with the lasagna garden.

Most lasagna garden enthusiasts will agree that—just like the lasagna you make in the kitchen—there are many variations on the familiar recipe that yield the same great results. What’s consistent is the layering concept and the basic elements that work.

To learn the specific layering process of the lasagna gardening method, we’ve pulled together several lasagna garden recipes from several reputable sources.

Here’s an image of a basic lasagna garden layers.Lasagna-Garden-Graphic-GardensAll.com

Sheet Mulch Layers for a Lasagna Garden

  1. Cardboard or Newspaper
  2. Browns – leaves, shredded paper
  3. Greens – vegetable scraps, grass clippings
  4. Repeat – Browns & Greens to about 3 feet high
  1. Newspaper & Cardboard: cover the ground, grass or weeds with cardboard and/or newspaper. This dark moist space will attract earthworms which will loosen the soil and create worm castings. This plus the soil loosened which combine with the dying grass or weeds to decompose into soil. Water this to soften and anchor in place.
  2. Browns: Layer of browns (leaves, shredded paper) on top of the cardboard or newspaper.
  3. Greens: Layer of greens (vegetable scraps, grass clippings) on top of the brown layer.
  4. Repeat Browns & Greens: Layer until your lasagna garden is about about 3-4 feet high.

It works best for the “brown” layers of leaf mulch to be about twice as deep as your “green” layers of composting foods, vegetation and grass. Just like many kitchen recipes, garden recipes are approximate. If you work with this most basic foundation and layer browns and greens, you’ve got a lasagna garden bed.

Your end goal is a two-foot tall layered bed. The layers will compost down to approximately 2 feet high in just a few weeks, and your garden is ready to plant!6)http://greenthumbs.cedwvu.org/factsheets/lasagna.php

shutterstock_195503849

You’ll find more on no-dig gardens, plus two video clips next.

Digging No-Dig Gardens

You can see how easy it is to build a Lasagna Garden and how quickly it comes together. It’s merely a matter of gathering the raw materials and layering them on top of each other.

No-dig gardens are perfect if you have unfavorable growing conditions in your soil.

We have a sunny spot in the yard and the soil might be workable but there are underground pipes and cables that would be a bear to move and even worse to tangle up in a tiller. That’s why we’re using more surface gardening methods, including lasagna, raised bed, straw bale and hugelkultur.

There are all kinds of references and resources on how to build your no-dig no-till low maintenance garden. Our favorite author on Lasagna Gardening is Patricia Lanza, but here are some other top-rated options.

Videos on Lasagna Gardening Method

We’ve hand picked two videos that illustrate how different folks use the same basic recipe. The first is Patricia Boudier making a lasagna garden in her yard. The second video is…well…a bit of a different approach.

Enjoy! And please let us know what you think, and if you’ve actually used this method, how it worked for you and what kind of adjustments you made, if any.

 

And last but not least, a fast-action reveal of how they do it down on the farm!

You Will Dig No-Dig Gardening!

One of my favorite quotes is:

“Just because it’s always been done this way, doesn’t mean it’s the best way.”

The “it”, in this case, is about digging the soil for gardening. We are now free to put away those mattocks, hoes and tiller!

Digging takes a lot of work. While the exercise benefits are good for your body, there’s also a whole slew of reasons why one would rather just get on with the planting. Many people tell us they have back problems that get in the way of their gardening. Also, as people age they may not want to spend so much energy digging, hoeing, raking and shoveling dirt. Whether for you it’s any of these reasons, or that you just want to save time, this is good news.

You may have heard of the benefits of straw bale garden method, which we are currently implementing. There’s also the “no dig” method.7)https://gardensall.com/easier-gardening-method-straw-bale-gardening-how-to/

Raised Bed Lasagna Garden

The no-dig gardening method is almost a mix of lasagna gardening, where you layer dirt and compost, and raised bed gardening, where you build a structure.

The key differences: you’re layering non-dirt material (compost, peat moss, straw,) as opposed to dirt and compost. You don’t have to build a raised bed to employ the no-dig gardening, though it’s a good idea to have some sort of structure to contain the garden space.

Origin of No-Dig Gardening

Esther Dean, an Australian gardener and author, pioneered the no-dig gardening technique around 1977 and shared it with the world through her book, No-Dig Gardening / Leaves of Life.

Some would say that Ruth Stout was the first to bring this to the world with the publishing of her first book in 1953, titled Gardening Without Work.

Ruth Stout’s method was less methodical, yet still immensely successful. Esther Dean designed a little more structure into her no-dig, no till gardens. They’re both highly effective, natural approaches to gardening that people fond of permaculture and Eden garden methods will appreciate, and others will be delighted to discover.

This super simple soil building technique works.

More results. Less time.

There are many variations of how we can build a “no dig garden”, but they all use the same underlying principle, which is soil building. With this nutrient-rich humus you can grow a flourishing garden even in poor soil conditions. The other beautiful aspect of this is how you’re actually creating good soil that will—over time—improve your existing soil conditions as you rake the remains of the garden over the old soil after harvest.

This layered gardening approach has the added benefit of helping to build and restore soil throughout your garden or yard are over time. If you have poor soil now, after a few years of building layered gardens, your soil should flourish.

Here is another good graphic on the layers of a lasagna style garden that use more ingredients and layers than the basic example above.

no-dig-overview_thumb
image: Deep Green Permaculture

If you are a renter and not currently a homeowner, you will appreciate Angelo’s story of how he started his gardening endeavor while renting a home.

“Essentially the no-dig garden is constructed of alternating layers of carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials, just like a properly made compost heap.” Angelo of DeepGreenPermaculture8)https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/my-garden/how-it-all-started/

For more schematics and information, you can visit DeepGreenPermaculture.com.9)http://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/no-dig-gardening/

Next, an inspiring video on layering your no-dig garden, and what’s possible in one 5’x16′ raised bed,

No-Dig Garden Ecology

Did you know that if slugs are a problem in your garden, manure will handle that?

Learn how to grow lots of food even in small yards and tiny lots.

In another video, (which we’ve lost somehow, but kept the calculations), an 80 square foot garden bed yielded around 232 pounds of produce at 2.9 pounds per square foot. That’s 31,584 pounds of food that could be grown in one season in just 1/4 acre of land!

You can grow 31,584 pounds of food on just 1/4 acre of land!

Don’t have a quarter acre? Well… if you have:

1/16 acre of land –
that’s 2,722.5 square feet
x 2.9 pounds per square foot
= 7,895 pounds of food

In one growing season.

That could feed a family, right?

So while we couldn’t find that video, here’s one our gardeners and members of the Planting for Profit group will love:

A one+ hour video that John Kohler of GrowingYourGreens shared on no till gardening featuring Paul Kaiser, who was able to make $100,000 gross per acre per year on on his farm!!

And lastly, for some lovely visuals and interesting information on how the soil and garden eco system work in another highly productive no-dig, no-till garden, we think you will enjoy this 6:44 minute video clip. Check out the beautiful gardens and greenhouse on a very small lot!

“THE KEY TO HORTICULTURE IS THE SOIL, WHICH IS THE ENGINE TO YOUR GARDEN.”

JEKKA MCVICAR

 

We love learning. In this article we’re learning about an ancient art of gardening made new again. Really, it’s a common sense approach. Working with the laws of nature rather than in spite of them. We love this quote:

“All of us can be scientists. What the true scientist were doing in the beginning is they were going out to observe nature and understand it better… so any gardener can be a scientist. True science is about learning as you observe nature. Try different things. See what works in your garden, your situation in your climate.” Jekka McVicar

Have you tried no-dig gardening? Let us know on Facebook, we’d love to see any pictures you care to share too!

We’re doing rows, straw bale, lasagna gardening, and hugelkultur, and we’ll be sharing more over the seasons on which ones perform best. 10)https://gardensall.com/organic-solutions-to-pesky-garden-critters/ So far, we’re wishing we’d gone with more raised beds or straw bales as that would’ve solved the mole destruction problem. Chances are the lasagna garden method will help with moles as well since with the extra cardboard/paper barrier to entry. We shall see and report back.11)https://gardensall.com/straw-bale-gardening-benefits-hacks-and-how-to/

Keep on Growing!!!

If you enjoyed this, you may enjoy these articles on Ruth Stout, one of the pioneers of the no-till gardening method.12)https://gardensall.com/ruth-stout-the-innovator-of-deep-mulch-gardening/

References   [ + ]

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Coleman Alderson is author of the Mountain Whispers series and frequent blogger on LittleRedPill.com. "I see myself as an outlier, a free-market entrepreneur, an eclectic reader and devout learner, a devoted family guy, a plantsman, a home designer-builder-remodeler, a conscious environmentalist, and a friend to humanity." He holds an MS from Penn State where his thesis centered on horticulture, park planning, design, and maintenance. "But nothing surpasses my 40 years of lessons from the field and garden. And the beauty of gardening is that those lessons never end!"