Lasagna Gardening?

gardenerbythelake(z7 N AL)June 27, 2008

Anyone have any experience with Lasagna Gardening? What did you use for your layers? How well did it work? I can't help being a little leary of things that sound too good to be true, so I would like to hear from someone who tried it in zone 7.



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What are the advantages of lasagna gardening. Isn't tilling or plowing, raking and planting just as easy as spreading all that wet newspaper, buying and layering peat moss and compost to several inches and then mulching it all? I would just as soon till it, clean up the ground and work all that peat moss and compost into the dirt and have great soil to plant in. Soil will hold added nutrients from fertilizer while peat and mulch let it all leach through. I just don't see the advantage.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 11:25PM
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tedevore(7b Al)

I have read articles where people swear that their beds prepared the lasagna way perform better than others. Its basically planting in a carefully prepared compost/soil amendment pile. I wonder about the claims that worms will loosen and aerate even hard compacted clay soil as well as other methods. I get worms in my compost bin after a compost batch is ready, but I don't see that the hard clay soil UNDER the finished compost is now loose and wonderful.
Digging in organic matter, then creating a raised mulched bed or berm also
attracts worms, and you dont have to wait for the "layers' to decompose for
months before successful planting. I know the lasagna gardeners claim you can plant in the lasagna bed after a couple weeks if its prepared just right, but it sounds like you better have a lot more soil amendments on hand to keep adding as the layers break down, and it will take awhile before you are
working in several inches nice crumbly soil.

It would be nice to read about one of our ag. schools or botanical gardens
having careful side-by-side comparisons, before I try spreading all that
newspaper around and try it myself.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 10:21PM
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gardenerbythelake(z7 N AL)

Thanks for the responses. I agree it would be fantastic if someone would do an experiment. I read the glowing reports & start collecting cardboard; then I think about it and reach some of the same conclusions yall have. The area is somewhat sloped and has eroded some and I am afraid it will erode more if we till it. Thanks again for the advice.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 9:59AM
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I tried this and it does work but not in the amount of time that is touted. I had some old concrete blocks so last fall I outlined a bed in a new area (grass and weeds), layered newspaper and wet it thoroughly, then layered with pulled weeds, veggie waste (instead of in the compost pile as normal) and after about a month, topped it will raked leaves. Then I let it sit all winter. Planted it this spring with tomatoes and bush beans. Although some of the leaves didn't compost completely it was still ready to plant and the veggies love it. Yes, I have worms and no weeds since the very top layer of leaves is still there as mulch. I also threw in a layer of cotton seed meal (an organic nitrogen source) and a bit of lime. If you have time for the bed to sit - it's an easy alternative to tilling. Linda

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 3:09PM
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catbird(z7 AL)

I've done a semi-lasagne bed which worked well for me. I had a large area of weeds and grass in hard clay that I wanted to convert to a perennial border. I put down lots of newspapers, then covered them with a thick layer of hardwood chips. (The dump truck load of wood chips was delivered free by a tree cutter who was happy not to drive all the way to the dump and then pay a tipping fee.) The hardwood decomposes faster than pine, so in a season or two it was pretty well broken down. I spread course construction sand over it (had to pay for that ;-) ) then had hubby till it all in for me. The process killed all the junk growing there and left me with a wonderful bed. If you have time to wait for the process to work, it's cheaper and at least as easy as spraying everything with Roundup, then buying and spreading amendments, then tilling it in. If you have bermuda grass, as we did, it's hard to kill with Roundup and will just come right back wherever the tiller deposits a piece.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 9:52PM
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I agree that lasagna works well esp. if you can let the area sit a while. Like prepare the bed in fall and plant in spring. I just can't handle a tiller well, nor even can shovel very well anymore. I do like and use the lasagna method. If I had someone to dig and till for me I probably would do that. However I also have read some things on the 'net about damaging the soil structure by tilling. Can't remember exactly where now, but I think even some farmers not doing it anymore. of course, years of experience says it works. Lasanga does too. It's good if you have grass or weeds that you just can't dig out. You do need alot of organic matter or compost to create the beds. It's all good.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 11:54PM
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gardenerbythelake(z7 N AL)

Thanks for the continuing responses. I do have weeds that need to be removed, and the soil is hard clay. I think I am going to put down at least 12" of layers and let it set for a few months. I will keep you posted.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 8:17AM
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I have been working since fall on a huge lasagne bed that surrounds the perimeter of my fenced back yard. I hate tilling and I hate weeds, so I hope it works. I used cardboard instead of newspaper, 3040 pounds of walmart composted manure, lots of starbucks coffee, veggie scraps. I want to add alfalfa pellets and more composted manure before spring. So far, no weeds in the beds. My tilled bed has weeds sprouting up already in this cold. My husband thinks I am nuts...but if the 29 roses I plan to plant thrive, then we'll see who is nuts!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 1:20PM
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I have a lasagna bed going right now where I plan to put my lettuce and spinach. Like some of you, I had read about it for years, but we recently moved, and I'm having to 'invent' garden spots in this new locale. I laid down the wet newspaper, layered it with almost-finished kitchen compost, garden soil, composted manure, peat moss and topped it off with more garden soil. It is BEAUTIFUL, and if it grows as good as it looks, we'll be in the greens fo sho! I'll keep ya'll updated. ;-)

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 3:10PM
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In my backyard I've prepared flower beds by either tilling them or even double digging them by hand (something I highly recommend for losing weight fast)....:)....So after reading about lasagna gardening I thought I'd try it in the front yard in some new beds I decided to prepared last fall.....So far looks fine, no weeds to speak of...I used newspaper and cardboard, then bags of humus and compost from Walmart to a depth of about 4 inches, then covered all that up with a couple of inches of pine bark mulch.....So far I've planted only Astilbes but looking forward to doing some more planting this spring.....If you're planting in the vicinity of trees it seems lasagna gardening would be good to keep from harming wide spreading shallow roots if you tilled it instead of using the lasagna method.....

Paul from Alabama

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 9:13AM
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