Green Your Life: Start an Eco-Friendly Lasagna Garden

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Gardens are good ways to grow your own vegetables, cut down on your grocery bill, and an excellent way to deal with kitchen waste through composting. Gardening has become a popular environment friendly activity like installing solar panels and recycling. However figuring out how to dig, compost, plant and care for the entire thing seems like a daunting task, especially if you’ve never made a garden before. Creating a lasagna garden is a simple and easy way to accomplish all of this. It’s great for beginner gardeners too, because there’s no double digging, tilling or other soil pre-preparation.

Otherwise known as “sheet composting,” there’s no digging or tilling required. The first layer of cardboard or newspaper will smother the weeds. The layers of the lasagna garden will cook down to make a fluffy, rich soil that’s perfect for flowers and vegetables.

The best time of year to build your lasagna garden is in the fall. Brown, fallen leaves are perfect for the brown layers, and the layers will have plenty of time to break down over the winter months. When spring arrives, your lasagna garden will be perfect for planting. However, if you want to start a lasagna garden in the spring, you’ll have to amend your brown layers with topsoil.

The added topsoil will help the green layers of kitchen scraps compost faster. Also, if you used cardboard as your first layer, it won’t be broken down enough to push through it with a spade or trowel. You’ll have to cut holes where you want to plant.

Layer 1

No digging required! Lie down a sheet of cardboard or three layers of newspaper over the area where you want your garden. You don’t have to remove the weeds or grass ahead of time. After placing the newspaper/cardboard layer, water the paper. This will help keep it in place as you assemble the next layer and will start the decomposition process. The damp paper will also attract earthworms which will loosen the soil with their tunnels.

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Layer 2

Add a green layer. A good rule of thumb is that anything you would add to a compost pile can be added to the lasagna garden. Potato peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, tea bags, vegetable peelings, fruit rinds and banana peels are just a few examples. You can add grass trimmings and weeds as long as the weeds haven’t gone to seed.

Layer 3

Add a brown layer. Generally speaking, your brown layer should be twice as thick as your green layer, but this doesn’t have to be a precise measurement. Remember, if you’re planting in the spring, you’ll need to put down a layer of topsoil first then the rest of your brown layer. This could be dried leaves, shredded newspaper or pine tags. After each brown layer, water the area well.

Continue alternating green and brown layers until you have a bed that’s two feet tall. You’ll be amazed how fast it “cooks down” to make a nutrient rich garden. If you’re building the lasagna garden in the spring, you’ll want to finish with a 3-4 inch layer of topsoil so you can begin planting right away.

Remember, you won’t need to fertilize it like other gardens since it’s built with compost. Once it’s finished, start digging those plants!

Chris Keenan Avatar

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