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Easy Gardening With Lasagna Gardens

Updated on November 14, 2010
You can see the top layer of a lasagna garden here.
You can see the top layer of a lasagna garden here.

I read several gardening books this summer and kept coming across something called lasagna gardening. My first thought was to grow the vegetables needed to make lasagna, but I quickly discovered I was wrong. The more I read the more I wished I had done that. We have raised beds for our garden and it took a lot of compost, manure, peat moss, etc to fill it and it was expensive to say the least. Lasagna gardening would have been much cheaper and easier.

What I love about lasagna gardening is that it doesn't require a lot of digging, can be put anywhere that gets enough sun, can be filled with materials from around your yard or house and is easy to add to over the years. I really like that you use materials that might otherwise get throw in a landfill to create something to benefit your whole family and the environment.

When creating a lasagna garden it is all about the layers, just like in a real edible lasagna. The first step is to break up the soil underneath where your garden will be. You don't have to dig deep and you can leave the dirt in place, but loosening the soil underneath the garden bed will allow all the beneficial insects and microbes in the soil underground to easily reach your garden. This will help the layers of your garden break down and create very fertile soil - just what every gardener wants.

Most lasagna gardens need something around it to hold everything in place. A fence staked around where you will layer or possibly wooden garden beds. If you have a very large area and don't mind a messy look, you can make do without this step. Just like in a compost pile you want to have a good mixture of green ingredients and brown ingredients. Green ingredients will include things like kitchen scraps (no meat or protein!), fresh grass clippings, moist dirt, compost, peat moss, coffee grounds, manure, etc. Brown ingredients include dry material such as chopped dry leaves, straw, newspaper, sawdust, etc.

Once you have your material you can start layering. You should start with newspaper to prevent weeds from growing. A layer a few pages thick should do the trick. On the bottom you should keep it intact. If you use newspaper for other layers, shredded will work fine and allow more air and water to move around. You should alternate green and brown ingredients and work your way up to 18-24 inches thick. You definitely need a "dirt" layer every few layers out of peat moss, compost, manure, etc. as this will help speed up the breaking down process.

A lasagna garden will break down much like a compost pile, but you get the added benefit of being able to plant vegetables in it. From what I can tell there is mixed opinion of whether you can plant in these beds right away or whether you should let them cook for 6 months or a year first. If you fix up a lasagna garden in the fall and cover it in black plastic to let it cook like a compost pile all winter, it should be ready in the spring. My feeling on this depends on the ingredients you used in making the lasagna garden. If you use fresh manure of any kind then you should let it cook for 6 months minimum. If you use only aged manure or no manure, and made sure to add plenty of dirt like layers then planting immediately should work well.

Keep in mind that the layers will condense as time passes and the materials break down. One of the benefits of lasagna gardening is that you can keep adding layers for as long as you have the garden. I think adding a few layers each fall will help keep the soil in very good condition for planting in the spring. I know that next time I create a garden bed I will be using the lasagna gardening method, how about you?

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    • Kim M Gregory profile image

      Kim Morgan Gregory 5 years ago from The Coast of The South Carolina Lowcountry

      With all the gardening I have done over the years, I have never heard of this. Intersting concept. You may like to take a look at my garden by visiting http://additionstoourtable.com/Gardening.aspx

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 6 years ago

      Curious about your title, I didn't know what to expect. I like learning, so I enjoyed reading this.

    • cwarden profile image

      cwarden 6 years ago from USA

      What a wonderful idea, I have never heard of this before. Thanks for sharing this information, I will definitely be trying this out.

    • Seakay profile image

      Seakay 6 years ago from Florida

      This is a great idea! Unfortunately, my yard backs up to a preserve and we have rabbits, squirrels, snakes, a tortoise, and stray cats that come through the fence... or over the fence... perhaps I can do 'boxes' on my screened patio...

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      This is the best and easiest way of doing gardening.

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 6 years ago from Philippines

      I learned in college in my Practical Arts class how to make a garden in layers. It is above the ground in a place not directly under the sun all day. I used the body of the discarded banana plant for the base. Then put a thin layer of loam soil on it. On top of the 2, I put dried rice stalks. This was repeated until it rose to a manageable height where I can water it everyday. Another layer of thin soil completed the garden. Water used to wash mongo sprouts(for cooking) was also used to water the garden. It needed to compost before it bore results.

      It was a mushroom bed! No need to use spores. It was believed that the composted combination provided the spores. I wish I could do this again in my new vegetable garden. Then I'll call it my lasagna bed. Thanks for the nice idea.

    • Neverletitgo profile image

      Neverletitgo 6 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Great hub and well explained about lasagna gardening. I am proud to be your follower. Please visit my hub. Thanks for sharing

    • daydreamer13 profile image

      daydreamer13 6 years ago

      I didn't know. Thanks for the great idea!

    • Joni Douglas profile image

      Joni Douglas 6 years ago

      This is a really cool idea. Thanks for writing about it. Very organic and natural.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 6 years ago from USA

      This is a nice organic method to use. I think I'll try it.

    • Jeremey profile image

      Jeremey 6 years ago from Arizona

      Haven't heard of this before, intersesting idea. I shared a link to this hub on my blog page.

    • Magdelene profile image

      Magdelene 6 years ago from Okotoks

      Useful hub and it sounds simple too. Thank you.

    • tmbridgeland profile image

      tmbridgeland 6 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      I do something like this, but didn't know it had a name! All my leaves go over the top of the garden in the fall, and all the kitchen waste goes into shallow holes and covered. During the growing season I just add between the rows/beds.