Hungry for lasagna?
DIANNE J. GELINAS
Dig in with the Master Gardeners
The lasagna I am referring to is a garden method not an entrée.
Lasagna gardening was started and made popular in the late 1990’s. It is an age old idea to start composting with a new twist or two. These days we are looking for easy ways to go green and this is just one. This system introduces gardeners to an economical system of soil modification that mimics nature itself. A walk in the woods will show you how layers of matter pile up, without any human help to make great soil and a perfect place to propagate plants, herbs, flowers and trees.
As the OSU Extension composting fact sheet #HGY-1189–99 states, “the compost microbes need a certain amount of water and air to sustain itself.” Instead of yard clippings and kitchen wastes using valuable space in our landfills, why not try composting? You can start by composting and reducing the pesticides and fertilizers you use. There are no hard and fast rules about what can be composted. Your bed must contain different types of organic matter in addition to air and water. You should aim for alternating layers of brown matter (carbon sources) with layers of green matter (nitrogen sources).
Common brown sources include: dry leaves, newspaper, and straw, cardboard (may be shredded), chopped brush and corn stalks. Green items to consider include grass clippings, compost, kitchen scraps (do not include meat, bones, or dairy) coffee grounds and egg shells. Most material that you find right in your yard can be used in composting.
Now let’s start with the “recipe” for Lasagna Gardening:
1.) Start by examining your property and identifying a site where you plan to build your garden. This site should be close to a water supply and should have plenty of sunlight.
2.) If the site has grass present do a one-time turn on the grass. If the soil is predominantly clay you may have to work it a little deeper. Try not to tamper down the dirt by walking on it. This is a good time to mention placing cardboard around the garden to use as a pathway when planting or harvesting.
3.) Then add 4 to 6 inches of newspapers (do not include glossy advertisements). You will need to wet the papers and continue to water each layer, keeping the pile like a sponge that has been rung out. This environment (dark and moist) will lure the earthworms to your bed. Think of the worms as your team of rototillers.
4.) Following steps include alternating 4 to 6 inches of grass clippings and green trimmings from your yard with brown layers. The brown materials include straw, sawdust or leaves. Keep layering until you reach a bed thickness from 18 inches to 3 feet.
5.) Finish your Lasagna Garden with a final layer of newspapers, leaves or mulch. Make sure your ingredients are free of weeds; otherwise you may have some germination of weeds before you plant.
Finally, let your lasagna “cook.” The amount of time you cook your bed is based on when you intend to plant. If you wish to plant immediately you will need to add 2 to 3 inches of compost before putting the plants in the ground.
To maintain your garden you will need to keep it wet and check on the settling of the bed. Also, when you see the activity of worms you know your site is working. You can add alternating layers to your bed each year to keep the composting successful. If you want to wait before planting, just let it cook a while longer. Testing your soil for pH and other nutrients every year will let you see if any supplements should be added.
This method of gardening has two primary advantages. It is economical, by making use of products you have on hand. It is green, by using resources that are destined for the landfill.
The practicality of this type of gardening is timely when considering our economic state. Following this recipe will allow you a weed-free garden with exceptional soil in which you can enjoy an abundant harvest with the purpose of creating real lasagna for your whole family to enjoy!
Dianne J. Gelinas is an OSU Extension Delaware County Master Gardener Volunteer.
The OSU Extension Delaware County Master Gardener Association is offering a scholarship in the amount of $1,000 to a Delawre County Ohio resident currently pursuing a career in Horticulture, Agriculture, Landscape Architecture, Environmental Studies or Environmental Science. Scholarship information can be found at delaware.osu.edu/topics/master-gardener-volunteer-program/scholarship. The submission deadline has been extended to June 30.