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Lasagna Gardening Tips

Lasagna gardening isn't about growing lasagna, and it isn't about growing the great vegetables and herbs found in lasagna recipes. Instead, lasagna gardening is a timesaving organic gardening method developed by gardener and writer, Patricia Lanza, which requires no digging, no tilling and no sod removal. Too good to be true? Read on.

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A Garden of Layers

Lasagna Gardening is a nontraditional organic gardening method that relies on a layering method called "sheet composting." The name "Lasagna," comes from the way garden beds are created from layers, the same way you layer ingredients when making a pan of lasagna. Watering and weeding are reduced through the heavy layers of mulch and by planting crops close together. The lasagna layering method quickly builds soils that are incredibly rich in nutrients, resulting in higher than average garden productivity. The method also works great for container gardening.

What Makes It Different

Thick layers of organic mulch are the main ingredients of every lasagna garden. Chopped leaves, grass clippings, straw, hay, sawdust, wood ash, compost, animal manure, newspaper, etc., are just some of the materials that might made up the layers of a lasagna garden. Individual materials will vary in each individual's garden according to what is available locally.

How Do You Make a Lasagna Garden?

To make a lasagna garden you stake out your garden site and begin building up the beds layer by layer. The first layer involves laying down something heavy over sod, like thick pads of newspaper or flattened cardboard boxes, to kill the existing grass. The next layer should consist of 2-3 inches of a water absorbent material like coir, or peat moss. I recommend coir because of the growing environmental damage caused by extracting peat from bogs. Next, a 4-8 inch layer of organic material, such as compost, is spread over the coir layer. Another layer of coir, or a peat alternative would be added on top of that, and then yet another layer of organic material, like grass clippings on top of the coir, and on and on until the beds reach 18-24 inches high. Finally, the tops of the piles may be sprinkled lightly with bone meal and wood ash for added phosphorus and potassium.

"Baking" the Beds

At this point, some gardeners elect to "cook" their lasagna gardens (give the layers of mulch time to breakdown). This reduces the height of the beds and produces high-quality workable soil more quickly. Cooking the beds is optional, but certainly not necessary. One of the greatest advantages to the lasagna gardening method is that you can layer your beds and plant your crops all in the same day.

Planting a Lasagna Garden

When you're planting a lasagna garden, no digging is required. For transplants, simply pull back the layers of mulch, drop in the plant and pull some mulching materials back over the roots. Sowing seeds is easy, too. Sprinkle a little finished compost over the area you want to plant, sow the seed, and cover it with a little more of the finished compost. Press down on the bed to secure the seeds and water thoroughly. It's that easy!

Because it uses no power tools, heavy equipment or expensive commercial additives, lasagna gardening is an easy way for people with space, age or physical limitations to maintain garden productivity. For more information on this easy, stress-free method of organic gardening, read Patricia Lanza's book, Lasagna Gardening, available at Lasagna Gardening (Affiliate Link)

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6 Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

I'm trying to grow a lasagna garden on a new farm with untilled soil and cannot seem to find enough material to layer with. Any suggestions? What would be a suitable replacement for the recommended peat moss? We don't have any available this season.

Thanks so much for any ideas!

Hardiness Zone: 6a

By Sherri Lile from MO

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July 8, 20100 found this helpful

Basically the idea behind layered gardening is to smother the grass and weeds, include everything plants will need over time. You want to go from coarse to fine. You can use cardboard/newspaper for bottom. Small twigs, branches, bush trimmings for next layer up, followed by something to keep finer stuff from falling through. An old wool blanket, layers of damp newspaper with some small holes poked in it, then grass clippings, coffee grounds,
veggie trimmings, anything you'd put in a compost heap, straw, hair, old wool bits [nitrogen from hair and wool]. Then topsoil, then compost. You can use old plants from inside you want to throw away in the coarser layers [medium coarse]. Basically you are planting on top of a compost heap in the making.
Rake leaves in the fall to cover it with if you'd like.

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July 10, 20100 found this helpful

This sounds like a great idea and I am going to do this!

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Anonymous
February 10, 20160 found this helpful

If you have any trees nearby, leaves are great ! In the fall you can pick up bags of raked leaves on people's curbs and use cheap manure from home Depot $2.00 bag. Start a compost now. That needs to be a good % !

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September 22, 20160 found this helpful

Use what you've got; look at undisturbed natural settings near by and copy it. We use grass clippings, raked leaves, wood ash, hay, manure from our rabbit, and composted veggie and fruit scraps. Also, in spring and fall, tree services tend to trim around power lines and mulch the branches/leaves. I got 4 truckloads of woodchips mulch this way- ask the crews if they'll dump the trucks on your property. This saves them time and $ if your address is nearby because it costs them to dump at a designated site. Win-win situation.

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December 23, 2013

I have done lasagne gardening for years. I have had mixed success. The first year is always great, but future years no so. What are you supposed to do with your garden each additional year? I have tried adding straw, manure, and peat moss. I tried just adding compost. It just seems to be getting so compact. Please help! Thank you.

By Linda C

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Anonymous
October 8, 20170 found this helpful

Only plant 2/3 thirds of your garden each yr allowing the earth to heal and regenerate its nutrients

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Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

July 8, 2010

I have come up with a shortcut method to create my "lasagna gardens." This is what I do, to save time, money, and back!

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February 22, 2010

My yard was quite boring and I have never had a green thumb. Then one day I saw a book at Cracker Barrel on building a Lasagna Garden.

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July 23, 2009

"Pat Lanza is a genius! It's a pleasure to find a garden writer like Pat who speaks from experience and who shares practical information in clear, understandable language.

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