Lasagna gardening is a no dig, no till way to amend your soil, rebuild nutrients, remove grass and weeds and create a rich base in which to grow fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs. In short, any type of gardening you wish to do can be improved and easier by using lasagna garden techniques.
So what is lasagna gardening? Think of the Italian dish, with all its delicious layers, consisting of pasta, sauce, meat, vegetables, cheese…..yum. Lasagna gardening is similar, using newspaper, cardboard, vegetable and fruit peelings, leaves, farm manure if available, coffee grounds, unsprayed grass clippings, all piled up on the spot you wish to create a garden. It is a friendly, free form method using what you have available.
Starting with the cardboard and newspaper, these layers will exclude light from the ground. This is very beneficial if you are starting out in a spot that has grass or weeds growing that need to be removed. Instead of spraying weed killer or digging, just mow the grass and weeds then lay down layers of cardboard and newspaper. The layers will exclude light and smother the grass and weeds, creating a nice place to plant. Avoid using colored ads, just go for the newsprint. A hint is to choose a day that is not very windy and to wet the newspapers down to avoid chasing them all over the neighborhood. This I can speak from experience!
Next, start creating the layers. Unsprayed grass clippings if you have them. Leaves, especially in the autumn make great layers. So do potato peelings, banana peels, apple cores, carrot tops and other scraps from the kitchen. Avoid adding bones, fats, and oils.
What is so nice about this method of gardening is it utilizes what you have on hand. You have lots of potato peelings but no carrot tops? Fine, use what you have. Over the course of time, your lasagna pile will begin to shrink as parts begin to decompose. Earthworms and microbes will break the ingredients down into beautiful, nutrient rich soil.
Things that can be used in making layers
- Cardboard (best as a bottom layer, using several layers).
- Newspaper (can be used as a bottom layer, in addition or instead of cardboard, and can be interspersed throughout).
- Vegetable peelings, scrapings, tops, roots. Use any all you have available, you cannot overdo. If you cook or steam vegetables in plain water without salt or oils, be sure to add the cooking water as well.
- Fruit peelings, cores, stems. Be aware that citrus peelings take a while to break down. That isn’t a problem, it will eventually.
- Kitchen bits and pieces, such as eggshells, tea bags (remove the staple found on some tea bags), coffee grounds, left over coffee in the bottom of a cup.
- Washed ashore seaweed if you live near a lake.
- Unsprayed grass clippings, garden waste, pulled weeds, spent flower heads.
- Farm animal manure such as goat, sheep, chicken, cow and horse. Avoid pet manure, unless your pets are chickens!
Things not to add include oils, fats, bones, meat.