Spring is in the air, and it is time to think about your dormant garden. One trend sounds interesting, and not just because of its unusual name. Lasagna gardening is a technique that is fast finding a following.
In lasagna gardening, plants are grown in compost – following a particular organizational sequence. While not a completely new idea, it is timely to reintroduce the approach, which mimics natural plant growth and soil cycles.
Compost is the result of biological processes, taking kitchen scraps and putting them through natural breakdown methods. Thanks to worms, small animals, fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms, these leftovers turn back into rich and fertile humus. Composting requires some air, moisture, and heat.
Lasagna gardens can be built on top of existing material, including grass. Brown and green compost are alternated in layers. Brown compost includes straw, paper, dried leaves, sawdust, and other slow-to-breakdown ingredients. These layers are less dense and help airflow through the garden. Green compost includes fragments of fruits and vegetables, grass, tea or coffee grounds, eggshells, and so on. Add some worms or worm castings. In no time, the compost materials will break down into rich soil. No digging is needed. Ideally, the layers are started about six weeks before planting, but you can plant immediately by forming a small hole in the layers and filling it with gardening soil.
One nice feature is the reduced need for watering. As organic materials break down and form mulch, the ground remains moist and cool underneath. Weeds can be deterred by planting densely, so that there is little chance for opportunistic growth.
Why should anyone try this gardening method? Growing your own vegetables and fruits is the ultimate in organic and locally grown food. It is cheap, efficient, and environmentally sustainable. In addition, you are re-using compostable kitchen waste. Little effort is necessary, after the initial set-up. And lasagna gardens work on lawns, as well as in window boxes or large planters, for those aspiring gardeners who live in condos. Kids also love to get involved.