Lasagna Gardening Lesson

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Last Wednesday was the final community potluck of the season at the garden and we got a nice bonus to wrap up the summer: a lesson on improving soil with lasagna gardening.

IMG_4955Leanne Baer spoke for a few minutes while we munched away on delicious summer salads and other goodies. Lasagna gardening is exactly what it sounds like: it’s all about layering. Instead of noodles, cheese, and sauce, your ingredients are nitrogen, carbon, soil and newspaper.

The basic principle is that, instead of working materials into the soil, you’re just adding nutrients on top – the way nature does. When we disturb the soil, we disrupt the work of soil organisms like earthworms, which are creating avenues in your garden through which nutrients can travel up and down.

Nature already knows how to turn raw materials into great soil and deliver nutrients to your plants. You just need to provide the materials and let nature do its magic.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. If you don’t already have a good soil base and need to kill grass/weeds, start with a few layers of wet newspaper.
  2. After that, you want at least 4 main layers, alternating nitrogen (greens: grass clippings, manure, vegetable scraps, peat moss, coffee grounds) and carbon (browns: leaves, straw, saw dust).
  3. Add a centimetre or more of soil on top, if you have it.
  4. Wait.

Lasagna GardeningAdapted from Red Hill Gardening

Fall is the best time to make your lasagna, especially if you’re using newspaper. It will decompose by the spring. If you start in the spring, you’ll want to poke holes for your root vegetables to get through.

Tips on sourcing materials for free: contractors dump shredded leaves in Breithaupt Park, and you can get manure from Waterloo Park!

Learn more here and here, or in the book Lasagna Gardening.

How Not to Get Rid of Bindweed

We ended the discussion by sharing advice about that pesky bindweed that’s all over the garden. Turns out that when you pull it out by the root (as I’d been doing until this year), it just gets worse. You need to break it off right at the surface – pruning shears (or plain old scissors) work well. And don’t leave it to dry up in the sun; make sure to remove every insidious little piece from the garden, because they’ll regrow!

I’ll leave you with few more pictures from the potluck, and of the thriving herb plot. Happy Harvesting!
– Laura

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