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Tricia and her dog Caesar get ready to make lasagna in her garden -- a lasagna gardening bed!
Lasagna gardening is just as wonderful as it sounds. You choose the “pan” (a raised bed or a piece of ground), add layers of brown and green, then top with Compostex fabric and let the soil microorganisms do the “cooking”!
You’ll have to wait longer than an hour for the lasagna bed—it could take up to a year—but when it’s ready you can plant right into a bed full of fluffy compost that your seeds and seedlings will find delicious.
In our latest video Tricia starts a lasagna gardening bed on part of her lawn. It’s really a slow compost pile in one regular shaped area.
Take a look at our composting video to review the magic of how brown and green waste turn into compost.
Lasagna gardening is ideal in raised beds too. Ready to build some raised beds this spring? We have a video that shows you how to do that with NO TOOLS or just a hammer. All the raised beds in the video can go with you too, if you move.
PREPARE THE LASAGNA “PAN”
If you’re placing a raised bed on cement or asphalt you can skip these steps.
Cut down vegetation on your lasagna site.
Pull any persistent weeds like bindweed, blackberries or morning glory that might reach up to enjoy the compost in your new bed.
To kill the vegetation, block its access to sunlight with layers of newspapers or cardboard.
ADD THE LASAGNA LAYERS
Raised-beds-on-asphalt gardeners, this is where you join us.
On top of the newspaper or cardboard spread a layer of high nitrogen (“green” lawn cuttings, prunings, vegetable scraps from your kitchen, used coffee grounds, chicken manure, or high nitrogen fertilizer).
Follow that with a layer of high carbon (“brown” leaves, shredded paper, dead vegetation like Tricia’s cornstalks).
Spray water on the layers as you go, since the composting process needs moisture as well as nitrogen and carbon.
Continue with alternating layers of high nitrogen and high carbon until the bed is 18”-36” deep.
SPREAD THE SPECIAL TOPPING OF COMPOSTEX FABRIC
No cheese allowed, but there is an ideal topping for your lasagna bed. You need to cover the bed because if it gets soaked by rain or snow the composting process will stop. You can spread a tarp, but that doesn’t allow good air circulation, and you do want some rain water to keep adding moisture to the pile.
What’s a gardener to do?
Use the Compostex fabric cover we have that shields the pile from heavy rain or snow, but permits moisture and air in to keep the compost pile healthy and active. We are delighted to be able to offer you this unusual product. It makes a world of difference to any lasagna garden or other kind of compost pile. A staff favorite here, Compostex comes by the foot, or in large sizes for our farmer customers.
That was easy, wasn’t it? The simplest way to make rich compost.
If you just can’t wait a year to get planting in your new bed, add a 3” layer of finished compost on top and plant shallow rooted starts, like lettuces or strawberries. The slight warmth of the lasagna bed slowly “cooking” means you can plant sooner than usual in springtime, too.
If you need ideas on planning crops for your new lasagna bed, try the free and fun garden planning program over at SmartGardener.com. They’ll help you play with crop choices, spacing, and planting times.
Lasagna gardening beds are as easy as can be.
bil paul Says:
Jan 1st, 2015 at 2:41 pm
I started doing “lasagna” composting on my own, before I read about others doing it. It has worked very well. I add materials timed to when I mow the lawn. I keep the compost pile within a circular wire netting about a yard high. First, I add a layer of accumulated kitchen scraps. Then I add a layer of grass clippings from the lawn mower. Then I add a layer of saved leaves, and by hand I mix the clippings and leaves together. Then I add a couple shovelfuls of soil, spread out evenly over the top. Then I wash out the container I used to contain the kitchen scraps, keeping the water inside the container (it will have bacteria that started multiplying within the scraps). Then I pour that water over the soil on top of the compost pile — that inoculates the pile with more bacteria. At various other times I add bird cage paper which has bird poop on it to the pile, and I will add paper from our paper shredder. So this way, I gradually add layers upon layers. The pile will subside gradually, but eventually I will have reached the top of the wire enclosure, and it’s time to start building a pile elsewhere. I have learned to build the piles next to fruit trees, because some of the nutrients will flow to their roots and make them super healthy. Sometimes they even send roots up into the piles. When I begin building a pile I will add worms from a previous pile around the base of the enclosure (or sometimes directly into the top of the pile) — they really do a job on turning the pile into compost. So it’s both worms and bacteria that do the work of composting. It’s important to keep the pile moist, especially during the hot summer. And when there’s a lot of rain happening, it’s important to keep the pile covered on top with plastic to prevent too much water from entering. I don’t think worms can handle too much water. Once you have reached the top of an enclosure and start a new pile, give the pile at least six months to completely turn into black gardening gold. One cute thing that happens is that occasionally, potato peelings will grow potato plants coming out of the top of the pile. Tomato plants grow from thrown-away tomatoes also, but they could grow into freakish tomato plants because they were hybrids.