We took the winter off from the big projects, but now it’s getting nicer out and we’ve turned our attention to the outdoors. One of the reasons we looked for a home on a lot of land was for a garden. Our last house was running out of space for my ever growing obsession, and since my husband loves to cook (and is dang good at it too) we can never have too many fresh veggies. Our 70’s ranch came on a sweet 1.6+ acres and included a 50’x32′ fenced garden from the previous owner. Yay!
So, big fenced garden, check! Unfortunately the last owner was an older woman and was only planting a few plants by the end and the rest was weeds and grass. After researching my options, I decided to give lasagna gardening a try rather than rent a tiller. The soil is red clay and I had no desire to build a bunch of raised beds, so why not give this a try?
What is lasagna gardening? It’s also known as layer gardening, back to eden, no dig, and no till. Lots of names, one really simple concept. Naturally create better soil by not disrupting the ground below. There are tons of resources that will each give you a slightly different ratio and instructions, but here’s the basics that are consistent through them all: Start with something to block the weeds, layer with various mulches, compost, and yard waste, plant, and continue adding to the layers. The idea is that without digging up weed seeds you’ll do less weeding, and as the layers break down, they will naturally create more fertile and healthy soil for growing.
I started with cardboard with all tape and labels removed. My first layer was leaves (a mixture of rotting, dried, and chopped by the mower), followed by straw. Over the straw I put about 2″ of compost. As I put plants in the ground I’m adding more compost directly where I plan (think traditional mounds). I’m planning to use a combination of grass clippings, wood chips, and compost to keep my layers going throughout the season.
Wish me luck, and if you’ve used this method before, I’d love to hear your tips and experience in the comments!
Straw is down!
10cubic yards of compost…this is after the dump truck got stuck in the yard, then the tow truck got stuck. They had to send a John Deer tractor to rescue them. Luckily, everyone had a good laugh, but now I have lots more holes to fill in the yard. Le sigh.
The black tubing is the end of the irrigation system we ran a few weeks back. Surprisingly easy to do, I’ll post on that once it’s all done.