How to Make a Lasagna Garden in the Spring

When you are tired of paying the grocer for produce shipped from all over the world, or got a late start on the garden, or just want to see real results fast without tilling, it is time to plant a garden that will save you time and money. The easiest, fastest, and cheapest way to get started is to prepare your soil using the lasagna gardening method.

No matter how infertile and compacted your soil is, in a few years of maintaining your lasagna garden, it will dramatically improve. If your soil is too acid or too alkaline, it will become more neutral over time. You will find that you will weed very little the first year, and even less in subsequent years, and even the weeds that do manage to spring up will be much easier to pull.

Since the soil gets warmer in the spring and stays warm longer in autumn, it will somewhat extend your growing season. You can use any organic method to improve your soil, including greensand, lime, kelp or Azomite®. Azomite® was formed when lava fell into a seabed in Southwestern United States millions of years ago, and contains 70 minerals and trace minerals that have been shown to be very beneficial to plants and animals. The more nutrient rich your soil, the better your produce will taste, and the longer it will keep.

You will not need to fertilize as often, but foliar feedings of sea kelp, fish emulsion, or Azomite® will keep your plants healthy and resistant to diseases and insects. A foliar feeding consists of diluting the nutrient and spraying it on all upper and lower leaves and stems of your plants in the evening. Your plants take in the nutrients even quicker than a soil feeding, and an evening application keeps them from drying to quickly.

Materials to Make a Lasagna Garden in the Spring

For lasagna gardening, you do not need much equipment. A a trowel, a wheel barrow or wagon, a gardening hose and a pitchfork come in handy, but even these are not necessary. You will need newspaper or cardboard and as much organic material as you can gather, including some compost if at all possible.

Cardboard boxes can be obtained from grocery stores, liquor stores, or people who just moved, and some stores save their boxes as a service to people who are packing to move. Depending on where you live, there is always some sort of byproduct that makes a perfect organic mulch for your lasagna garden. If you live near the ocean, seaweed is an ultimate mulch. In cities, grass clippings or leaves, or byproducts from food manufacturers may be available. In the country, check to see if farmers have hay or straw that is past its prime, or purchase some from a farmers and ranchers supply store. Starbucks and coffeehouses are happy to give away coffee grounds.

Cocoa mulch is sometimes economical. Be aware, however, cocoa bean shell mulch chips can make dogs and cats sick if they eat a lot of it, since it contains a substance that they cannot digest. When you first put out cocoa mulch, it smells like chocolate, but this will dissipate.

If you do not have compost, you can purchase it from your local garden center or big box store. Many cities or counties have a composting program and sell the compost economically in bulk. If you do not have a pickup, inquire as to how the facility works. Most composting facilities sell compost by weight, and most weigh your vehicle on its way in and again on its way out. If so, you can take a car, a tarp to protect the car, a box to hold bags while you shovel, a shovel, and some plastic bags to bag your own.

You can use almost anything that is organic, and it will all break down to aid both the moisture retention and drainage of your soil. Except for the initial construction using milk, do not use animal products, such as bones, meat scraps, and dairy products to a lasagna garden. These may attract rodents. Do not use diseased plant material, to avoid spreading diseases to live plants. Do not use dog or cat litter, since these can contain diseases.

Layering a Lasagna Garden

Lasagna gardens got their name from the similarly named Italian dish, with the layers alternating between “green” and “brown.” Nature will do its job no matter how you build it, so there is no need to be technical, but you can get a head start by encouraging microorganisms and earthworms into the area. If you plan on planting immediately, it would be best to thoroughly saturate the soil before you begin so that it will be ready to plant. If there is tall vegetation, just stomp it down and leave it in place, this is actually a sign that the soil is good in that area and the weeds have lots of minerals to add to your soil.

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About Olympia

My name is Olympia Paz, and I am a graduate of Kansas State University.with extensive studies in soil science (agronomy), horticultural science, and biology. I have continued my own studies in these areas, especially soil science, and applied my knowledge to growing nutritious organic food in my home gardens, containers, and inside.

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