Vermont Garden Journal: Lasagna Gardening

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I’m Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. I’m an Italian-American and if there’s one thing I know about it’s lasagna. I’ve been eating it since I was a little bambino. While lasagna is a great food, it’s also a great gardening idea.

Starting a new flower or vegetable bed can be back breaking work. Many gardeners dig out sod and weeds, bring in topsoil and compost and generally sweat a lot. My solution is to borrow the wisdom of the lasagna. Lasagna gardening is a way to eliminate all digging, turning and tilling to create a bed next spring that will be ready to plant. Here’s how it works.

Mow the area that for the new bed close to the ground with your lawn or brush mower. Then add layers like a lasagna. Add 4 layers of a moistened black and white newspaper over the area. Don’t try to spread it on a windy day or you’ll be chasing the newspapers all over the yard. On top of the newspaper, lay a 6 to 8 inch thick layer of straw, hay, or chopped leaves. Just remember hay may contain weed seeds. On top of the straw, add a 2 to 3 inch thick layer of compost. Through the fall and winter the layers will kill the grass leaving the nutrient rich decomposed sod in place. Earthworms and other soil microbes will feed on the newspaper and straw turning it into humus.

By spring your bed is ready to plant. Pop seeds or transplants in the compost layer and water. No maintenance required other than pulling the errant dandelion. But hey that’s okay, because we Italians know dandelion greens are great in lasagna too!

Now for this week’s tip, divide or move your peonies now. Dig up the whole clump, divide it into sections if it’s large, and replant in a full sun location on well drained, compost-amended soil. Plant so the crown is only 1 to 2 inches below the soil line.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I’ll be talking about season extenders. For now, I’ll be seeing you in the garden!

Lasanga Gardening

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