Considerations for planning and using your lasagna garden are the same as any garden, but you will be saving time and money while protecting and building your soil. If your soil was relatively good before you started your lasagna garden, you will be able to plant seeds and transplants a little closer than you would in a traditional garden. You can tell that your soil is good by digging up two large handfuls of soil. If you have at least two earthworms, then your soil is pretty good, if you have a dozen or more, your soil is great.
The Do-Nothing Garden
Masanobu Fukuoka, the author of The One-Straw Revolution, was quoted as saying, “You can throw Mother Nature out the window, but she will just come back in through the door with a pitchfork.” He believed in a do-nothing garden, which allowed nature to take care of her own with very little human intervention. You will save much time by working with Mother Nature and encouraging soil life.
In a do-nothing garden, beneficial weeds grow deep tap roots, breaking up soil and drawing up minerals into their leaves to be deposited on the soil when they are chopped down and used as mulch. Plants like dandelions are regarded as weeds by many gardeners, but in fact their strong tap roots draw a wealth of minerals to the top of the soil and they provided some of the earliest spring nectar for bees and other beneficial insects such as parasitic wasps. Although it is difficult for many gardeners to get used to this style of gardening, those who can adjust will reap the rewards.
How to Plan a Lasagna Garden Spacing
Build your lasagna garden twice as wide as you can reach comfortably, which is usually 4 feet wide. Of course, if your garden is against a wall or fence, make it two feet wide. Now is the time to plan your paths. If you plan on mowing between them, make them wide enough to accommodate your lawn mower.
When planning for the spacing of your plants in your lasagna garden, use the seed packets or plant tags to determine their eventual width and spacing. For the plants that will be on the edges, divide the eventual width or spacing in half and then add a couple of inches so that your plants will not be laying
in the paths to get walked on or run over by the mower. Old carpet or wood chips also make good paths.
What to Grow in Lasagna Gardens
You can grow anything in a lasagna garden including perennials, vegetables, herbs, and trees. If you will be growing tall plants, make sure they are located to the north of smaller plants to avoid shading the smaller plants.
Crop Rotation in Lasagna Gardens
Keep track of what you grow in each area so that you can avoid planting the same families in the same areas for at least 3 years. This is called rotating, and it will help you to avoid soil borne diseases and soil borne insects overwintering and then affecting your next crop. If you plan on planting several members of the nightshade family, such as eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers, try to plant them as far away from each other as possible. These plants are susceptible to the same diseases and attract some of the same harmful insects, so placing the plants further apart will make it more difficult for the diseases and insects to travel to all of your plants.
Staking Plants in Lasagna Gardens
For plants that grow tall and need support, you can build temporary or permanent support. You can purchase wire cages at your local garden store, but these are inadequate for large tomatoes and plants that bear heavy fruit. Almost all tomatoes get at least 5 feet tall and are very heavy when loaded with fruit. This makes them susceptible to wind damage, and if fruit or plants lie on the ground, they are more susceptible to diseases and rotting.
For temporary support, you can construct a teepee out of bamboo or long, thin, flexible tree branches. Take 5 long bamboo shoots and push them at least 6 inches into the soil, more deeply for heavier crops. Four of the poles form a square around the plant, and the fifth is in the center, carefully placed as closely to the stem of the plant as possible. Then, make cross ties every 8 inches to make the teepee stronger. You can use string or whatever you use to tie the plants to your stakes to go around the cross-ties and poles of the teepee several times until it is solid. It is easier to do this at the time of planting or soon after to avoid disturbing the plant. As the plant grows, tie it to the sides of your teepee. Heavy fruits, such as squash and small watermelons, will need additional support from a swing which you can make out of pantyhose which is tied to the outside poles.
How to Improve the Nutrient Content of Lasagna Garden Soil
If you want to improve the soil nutrient level, you can purchase blackstrap molasses from your local farmer’s supply store to add minerals and increase the microbial activity. Diluting it to one cup per three gallons water has been shown to improve the fertility and texture of the soil. Milk can be diluted to one part per four gallons of water to produce similar results. Spoiled milk works just as well as fresh milk. In tests conducted in only one month’s time, applying only three gallons of milk to an entire acre greatly improved the quality of the soil, making the structure much looser.
Azomite® is a clay product from the bottom of a volcano which was submerged in sea water millions of years ago in the Southwest United States. It has been shown to greatly improve the mineral content of soil, and grow healthier and better tasting vegetables.