There's Got To Be A Better Way! - Lasagna In The Garden
With ever rising costs at the grocery store and many communities experiencing the closing of well-known grocery chains and additionally being “down-sided” to very limited selections in fresh produce — I think it’s time to return to the prudence of having home grown organic gardens as just one way of fighting back inflationary times. There’s got to be a better way and that is found by growing your own fruits and vegetables in a layering (lasagna style) garden.
In my grandmother’s day they called a certain type of gardening, “layering.” Today, it has a more catchy term “lasagna gardening.” What this simply means is by way of layering in the garden, you can grow organic vegetables and herbs in a simple manner that:
- Saves time
- Requires very little upkeep
- Eliminates a lot of the hard work of traditional gardening
- Takes up minimal garden space
- Uses less water
- Reduces weeding
- Has less garden pests
- Eliminates the need for expensive soil additives
- Requires no tilling or digging
- Adds a joyful layer to the word “recycling”
With every good idea, getting started really begins with figuring out what you want to do. In a Lasagna garden, you want to start thinking long before the growing season about:
- What do you want to grow?
- Where will you put your garden”
- How large will your garden be?
- What grows best in your locale?
Deciding What You Want To Grow
Right now, as I write this, it’s the middle of winter, even here in the sunny south. It’s actually the right time for everyone, regardless of where they live to decide what your family vegetable needs and your locale dictates in terms of having a family garden.
For example, I know that my family likes and uses a lot of tomatoes. We like to make our own spaghetti sauces from scratch, use them in salads and a host of other ways in many recipes, and of course, there is the old southern standby of enjoying fried green tomatoes. I’m a purist in terms of growing tomatoes. I only want heirloom tomatoes and go to great lengths to search out new varieties of old-time tomatoes.
Fortunately for us, tomatoes grow well in our climate, so it’s at the top of my wish list in my lasagna garden. We like fresh herbs, lettuce, carrots, onions, and strawberries. Don’t think for a moment that this type of easy layering gardening, however, is limited to only growing produce. It’s also a great way to grow fruits, have a flower garden, landscape your yard, and even use when planting shrubs, perennials, and small trees.
One of my favorite things to do is combine vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers — all in the same lasagna garden.
Selecting A Site For Your Future Garden
Once you’ve got an idea of what you want to grow, it’s simply a matter of selecting your site for your garden. I just take a plain piece of paper and walk around the property, giving a lot of thought about shade and soil conditions in certain areas. I also consider wind, sun and shade, and water. Since we get seasonal heavy rains, drainage is another consideration.
Also, I keep in mind the Bloom Where You Are Planted Cardinal Rules Of What Not to Do — which I written about in the past in Frost Pockets In The Garden — Don’t Plant Me Here!
Getting Ready — Creating Great Compost
Like any good cook, the first step is to start gathering up the materials you’ll need to create your easy care lasagna garden. The ingredients are certain organic mulching materials that you will want to compost:
- animal manures
- ashes from the fireplace
- coffee grounds
- grass clippings
- shredded newspapers
- peat moss
- shredded leaves (just simply run your lawn mover over a pile of them on a low setting)
- contents of tea bags
- vegetable and fruit peelings
Next, have a site prepared for this compost pile. It needs to be level, well-drained, out of the wind, and in the full sun. Very simple requirements if you ask me. I will remind you, especially if you live where it snows, to keep it closer to the house for your own convenience. Also, if you live in a more populated area be considerate of your neighbors and keep it out of offending sight.
It doesn’t have to be large. I would enclose it. The very cheapest and simplest way is to make a wire bin with chicken wire. You can also use recycled pallets, wooden bins, recycled cinder block. You don’t have to go out and buy expensive compost containers.
After it’s just simply a matter of continually feeding your compost pile, adding a little moisture from time to time if you live in a dry climate or are having a dry spell. Now all you have to do is wait until spring.
Planting Your Lasagna Garden
To me this is perhaps the easiest part of all, because your garden is guaranteed to be something that you can do in a day or at tops in a weekend. All you have to do is:
Lay out or mark the spot where your garden is going to be and simply begin building your lasagna garden layers, in the same simple manner you make homemade lasagna for dinner, layer-by-layer.
No two lasagna gardens will have the same layers or the same organic materials. The one of the best parts about it. Use what you have available.
Once you’ve built your layers of your garden, just simply plant it. Generally, here in the south I do not “cook” it as some do in cooler climates. If you live where it is colder and want to get a jump start on your garden you may want to consider this deviation from a Southern gardener’s point of view.
To do so, simply cover your lasagna garden bed with sheets of black plastic and weigh it down with lumber, bricks, or cinder block for about six to eight weeks, prior to the recommended planting date for your locale. This will greatly warm your soil for optimum planting once your growing season begins.