Lasagna Garden Disappointment

harryshoe zone6 eastern PennsylvaniaMarch 27, 2012

I began a lasagna garden in early October. Examinations the last few weeks have revealed that nothing has happened. Even the newspaper is still intact. Five months of warm, wet winter didn't do the trick.

Lack of green material is, at least, part of the problem. I had hoped that layering in some rich wormy soil plus some fertilizer would make up for the lack of green.

The last two weeks we have began digging in peels and coffee grounds. I went to DD yesterday for a pail of grounds. They seem accommodating.

I have about 6 weeks before planting. Any suggestions?

Thanks.

Harry

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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

A few things. First keep adding more nitrogen. Coffee grounds, grass clippings, manure if you can find it. Secondly, I cover mine with burlap to keep it dark. This encourages the earthworms and other organisms to do their thing at the top layers of the pile. Also you can pile the stuff up and then later rake it over the area you want to cover. You don't have to cover the entire area evenly while it is decomposing. Lastly, I did a similar garden starting in November of 2011. By late April I wasn't thrilled with how much it had disintegrated. So I just threw some compost on top, I didn't have a lot, and planted right in it. The plants did fine. Here's a pic.

Here's what the area looked like in April. You can see to the left that I still had some parts of it covered.

Here's what the bed looked like in June.

Steve

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 11:47AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

is that wood???

i dont think you will be planting there this year ...

ken

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 11:52AM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

What exactly (and in what ratios) did you make that lasgna out of? That really does look like a lot of wood chips.

tj

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 6:48PM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

Since beginning a raw foods diet, blendering everything to smithereens, I have a lot of organic stuff to throw on the pile. We are also cutting the grass regularly, tossing dry leaves into the mix, a little soil from old flower pots, and all the paper from my document shredder. MARVELOUS source of easily compostable papers. (Including every catalog that arrives in the mail). Plus, I found at Amazon.com the real book about Lasagna Gardening. Imagine, after all this time, I get to read the original version of it, so my DH will know it is an honest-to-pete plan to compost, not something my online buds dreamed up.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 9:36PM
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tomahawkclaim

I don't know how you'll all react, but I learned this from reading the diaries of the great English gardener, Vita Sackvillel-West: pee on your garden! She called it "morning water" -- i.e. the urine in the morning chamber pot. She said it explained why her roses were so wonderful. From your photos, you live in an isolated spot; no one but your wife would see you. Very high nitrogen, FREE, and EASY TO APPLY.

Please don't evict me from the site for this post!! I'll sign: ANONYMOUS!!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 6:22AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Leave it to the Brits.

"Gardeners at a National Trust property in Cambridgeshire are urging people to relieve themselves outdoors to help gardens grow greener."

Steve

Here is a link that might be useful: Pee bales

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 6:49AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Pee is good fertilizer, but it shuld be diluted, like 10 / 1. I think it would help keep the critters away as well...and maybe the neighbors.

Jon

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 8:39AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

dont even get me started on how they fertilize rice fields in asia ...

wood takes extreme amounts of nitro to breakdown.. and copious amounts of water.. and in my chip piles.. 3 to 5 years to accomplish this.. if its piled high .. rather than spread horizontally ...

if its wood.. you would be better served to pile it .. throw a couple handfuls of 49-0-0 ... and never let it dry out for the whole year .. and MAYBE by next year.. you would have a pile of compost ...

ken

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 8:58AM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

To quote:
"Adding a little pee just helps get it all going; it's totally safe and a bit of fun too."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites .....

..... hehehehehe Love the disclaimer.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 10:30AM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

The pile is about 12" high. The wood chips are about 2" on the top. They are very fine from a stump grinder.

The garden began on rich soil with turf growing on it. The layers:

newspaper
pine needles
soil
shredded dried tree leaves
green leaves and clippings
soil
pine needles
fertilizer
fine wood chips

There are earth worms present.

I have some left over Miracle Grow which I could mix up and pour over the garden. How do you feel that might work?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 11:45AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

What does the pile look like underneath the wood chips? You want the newspaper to be intact, because it's still acting as a barrier against the grass underneath. If the rest of the layers are broken down (excepting the wood chips) then you are ready to plant. Use the wood chips as a mulch not as a soil amendment. Wood chips take way too long to break down.

Steve

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 11:55AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

and IMHO.. grindings are the worst wood product... forming an impervious mat..

i took it once.. NEVER AGAIN ...

to be clear using only the words.. 'grindings' are not 'chips' ...

i wish you luck

ken

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 3:27PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

What Ken and Steve said. Fine ground wood chips will prevent water and oxygen from getting to the rest of the stuff and will slow decomosition waaaaay down. Depending how much ferts and green leaves you used, you may need more nitrogen. But, as mentioned, I would take the wood grindings out of the equation.

tj

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 4:02PM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

I'm going to scape off wood chips as much as possible. Much (chips) has been mixed in as I bury the additional green material. Then another load of DD grounds and home green stuff. Afterwards, I am going to pour on the Miracle Grow. Unless someone tells me that is a bad idea.

Thanks

Harry

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 11:04AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

You can pour on the Miracle Grow all you want, but it's really wasting money. The coffee grounds and the green material should be enough. If a little bit of the chips get into the rest of the pile don't sweat it. It'll break down eventually.

If you want you can put the wood chips back on the pile. They will actually help the material break down, and keep the pile dark so that the earthworms can do their job. Just remember you are using the chips as a mulch. Don't mix them into the pile with a fork or shovel. My guess is that by May 15 or whenever your last frost date is you should be able to plant in this bed.

Steve

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 5:19PM
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