welcome, and thank you for joining me on my farm and studio in southern lancaster county, pennsylvania

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

lasagna gardening

No, it's not about raising vegetables for lasagna. It's about a method of gardening that utilizes a layering system (basically sheet composting on steroids) to reduce the work it takes to make and maintain a garden.

Rather than digging or tilling the soil, the author encourages us to build it up by layering organic materials on top of the soil before planting and then keeping it mulched once the plants are growing and throughout the season.

I'm giving it a whirl on two new gardens this fall in preparation for spring planting. For the herb/perennial bed a thick layer of spoiled hay has been laid down already and more will be added on top of that as fall progresses. By spring the soil underneath should be soft and loose from the work of microbes and earthworms, and then I'll plant the herb seedlings right into it without any tilling at all. For the new cut flower garden, it will be a modified version of this method. the beds were spread with manure, tilled and planted in spring oats as a cover crop with the paths left untilled and covered with wood chips. Once the spring oats have been winter-killed, the beds will get layered with various mulches. Next spring, flower seeds and seedlings will be planted directly without further tilling.

Eventually, I want to do all of the gardens in permanent beds with walkways in between and hopefully do away with tilling altogether. As with all of this, a little bit at a time and we'll see how it goes.


Jody M said...

I've had good luck with this method. I've never seen such good, dark soil or so many earthworms.

The two problems I've had:

1. Some layers do NOT want to soak in water, and when you water it just runs right off.

2. Seedlings take much better to a new Lasagna bed than seeds do (although if you put dirt or a dirt-like medium on top it does seem to help the seeds germinate).

Michelle said...

How I wish my husband wasn't so traditional in his beliefs on gardening (and a few other things)! This sounds so fascinating, and we have not had great luck with our traditional tilling methods. But I know he would rather fight than switch....