1. Start with a weed barrier (cardboard, weed fabric, etc.) and make sure as you are building your garden, the growing medium is loose and heavily aerated. The purpose of adding in organic matter in layers with your soil (and by organic matter, I mean: leaves, grass clippings, vegetable and fruit food waste, crushed egg shells, coffee grounds, and Manure from vegetarian animals) is to provide layers that are ripe with air pockets. This facilitates good microbial growth which facilitates decomposition, and gives the growing medium you are creating ample aeration for deep root systems in your plants.
2. Step on your growing medium as little as possible. Don't tamp down the soil you add. Walking on it will squish out all your air pockets.
3. Give your lasagna garden a little time to bake before planting. Six weeks is a minimum. That is about the amount of time that was recommended to me and it worked well.
4. If you are starting your garden in spring, use plenty of soil and manure and add in organic matter in layers with your soil and manure. There is not an exact science and it will get easier each subsequent growing season. My crops right now look like they are planted in leaf piles. That is okay! By the end of the season, it will all be dirt or close to it. See below for last Year's garden planted in leaves:
5. Don't start with a gigantic garden. Start small to eliminate frustration!
That is it! Seriously.
Here is a great example of a small Lasagna Bed in it's early stages:
This is my friend, Chris's garden. She put cardboard on the bottom then more on the sides to help keep the garden contained. She has since added more organic matter on top of the soil and manure and organic matter she already had. This is such a clever upcycling of a rickety old arched trellis that was too weak for it's original purpose! Chris's goal is a small contained garden so this is absolutely perfect for her. She located her compost bin at the end and it provides some arch symmetry as well as being located uphill from the garden and as it rains, the nutrients from the compost will wash down into the garden a bit!
This is my niece Julie's garden. Julie owns a horse and has access to the black gold that comes out of a horses back side! Horse manure is great because it has a crap load of organic material built into it's bulk. Horses eat a lot of fiber! She has used old feed bags as her weed barrier. Julie is a budding Lasagna Gardening and will probably expand her beds later. She also lives in a rented property and if she ever moves, her lasagna beds can be flattened out and quickly seeded with grass seed if the new tenants do not like the idea of a garden in their yard (perish the thought). This fall, when Julie begins adding more organic material to her garden, she can add more manure, leaves, grass clippings she has saved throughout the year, compost from her compost pile.
Both of these ladies have a fantastic start to their gardens in two totally different ways! I can't wait to see what they grow! When I presented my class, I gave the attendees a sample garden lay out for a 4x8 bed. Since your roots grow straight down, you can pack a lot into a small space.
Sorry the picture is sideways. I can't quite figure out how to rotate the pictures in my photo program. This is for a late spring garden since most those who attended my class won't be planting until May. Next spring, when you have an established bed that has been baking with all sorts of good organic material all winter, you can add in early spring crops like brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts), greens, turnips, etc. May is not too late to plant leaf lettuces or spinach. They have a very short growing cycle.
Keep in mind that most of my crops will go in around April 15 or they are already planted now. If you are just starting your garden or are not in North Carolina, your growing season will be different than mine. So when you plant your tomatoes in May, mine will have already been out for 3 weeks or more. This means, I will probably have tomatoes 3 or more weeks before you. We will probably have beans and corn around the same time, because, I wait until May 1 to plant those - the soil must be warmer for those to germinate properly.
Making the effort to provide at least part of your family's diet from a garden is a noble and wonderful undertaking. I am so happy to see so many who are interested in doing so. I owe most of my meager knowledge of gardening to three people: my parents (Daisy my mom and Charlie my step dad), and a close friend that I have never actually met in person, Deanna. Deanna is a friend from an online Autism/homeschooling support group. She introduced me to Lasagna Gardening and has been a great friend through a lot of autism issues, the birth of two of my four children, and so many other parts of my life. The ladies in this particular support group, have been a huge part of my life. Some of them for 8 years!
Finding support for any endeavor is so important. Whether it be family or friends... I am starting a "support group" for all my fellow local Lasagna Gardener's on Facebook that will link back to this blog and anything else I can find. You can find me on Twitter @stephsgarden.
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