Is it possible to have deep, rich, fluffy garden soil without back-breaking work, expensive equipment, or buying pricey loads of soil in southeast Texas, famous for its “black gumbo” clay-filled soil?
With some creativity, cheap or free raw materials, and time, you can have beautiful, rich, organic, and nutrient packed soil ready for your spring garden with NO tilling, weeding, or digging. Amazingly, there are no gimmicks and no special equipment to buy. This magical method is called “lasagna gardening”. Like lasagna, the garden plot contains layers of enriching items which eventually become your springy, fertile dirt.
Step 1: Choose an area that drains well and gets 6-8 hours of good sun each day; this can be any ground – even rocky ground!
Step 2: Lay down 2-3 layers of newspaper or 1 layer of cardboard. You don’t even have to remove grass and weeds; the paper will smother these, creating food for your plants. Wet the paper layer well to help smother the grass. The paper layer also serves as a nice template for your future garden. Test the size now to see if you can easily reach the middle of the plot from each side.
Step 3: Pile up layers of different materials, much as you would lasagna. The more the better! Rather than using noodles and cheese, the lasagna garden uses colors: green and brown.
· Green materials provide nitrogen: lawn and garden clippings, vegetable scraps, fruit peelings, etc.
· Brown materials provide carbon: Coffee grounds, manure, wood shavings, peat moss, fallen leaves, newspaper shreds, pine needles, hay, straw, etc.
It is important to use twice as much brown as you do green material. Look for free manure online or at local stables. Hay can often be had inexpensively or free from feed store sweepings. Adding earthworms speeds up the process. The more height, the better as the pile shrinks considerably as it breaks down.
Step 3: Water the pile well. Then sit down, congratulate yourself, and wait for a few weeks. Keep the plot moist, not soaked, by watering occasionally. Topping with hay or straw prevent weeds, retains moisture, and encourages earthworms. It really is that simple!
Fall is the best time of year to start your lasagna garden due to ample fallen leaves, but it really does work any time of year. When your lasagna is “done”, simply uncover, plant, and enjoy being the envy of your gardening neighbors!