What’s Growing at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens – Lasagna Gardening
By Melanie Priesnitz, Conservation Horticulturist
Gardening is great for helping practice patience. I am impatient by nature, and no matter how much I sing to my soil, I will always have to wait for the fresh taste of peas in the pod straight from the vine. Spring in the garden is a time for patiently waiting for the soil to warm and for the frost to pass. It’s a time to plan for future harvests and a time to prepare the earth for planting.
If you haven’t started a veggie garden yet, it’s not too late. A great no-till, no-digging option is to use the lasagna gardening method. While you can certainly plant tomatoes and oregano in this style of garden, it’s not referring to what you will eat, but instead, how you layer and cook organic matter to prepare your soil. You can build a lasagna garden on top of existing turf at any time of the year. The first step is to make your shopping list and gather ingredients. Look around your yard (and perhaps your neighbour’s yard) and see what you have on hand. Lasagna gardening treasures include newspaper, grass clippings, last year’s leaves, manure, seaweed, garden trimmings, coffee grinds, fruit and vegetable scraps, and compost.
To start your garden, lay down layers of wet newspaper. This layer will suppress the growth of grass and encourage earthworms to move in. Continue to add your materials in layers alternating between green and brown. Green, nitrogen rich materials such as grass clippings, garden trimmings, and vegetable scraps will work to cook the brown layers (old leaves, shredded newspaper, and pine needles). Ideally your brown layers should be twice as thick as your green layers to encourage active composting. Also ensure that you have a good amount of moisture. If you have patience, leave the new bed until next year to plant while continuing to build soil all season. If you are impatient and want fast results for planting this year, include layers of finished compost or soil at the top.
To learn all of the tips and tricks of lasagna gardening get your hands on a copy of Patricia Lanza’s book ‘Lasagna Gardening’ published by Rodale Press. There are also many fine lasagna recipes on the Internet. Happy gardening and happy eating.
Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens