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Connecticut Garden Journal: Lasagna Gardening

Sep 21, 2017

Being an Italian-American, I'd like to think I know something about lasagna. Hey, I’ve been eating it since I was a little bambino. While lasagna is great for eating, it’s also a good gardening idea. Let me explain.

Fall is a good time to start a new flower or vegetable bed, but it can be backbreaking work. Many gardeners dig out sod and weeds, truck in topsoil and compost, and generally sweat a lot.

My solution is to borrow from the wisdom of the lasagna. Lasagna gardening eliminates all digging, turning, and tilling to create a bed that next spring, will be ready to plant.

Here’s how it works.

Mow the area for the new bed close to the ground with your lawn or brush mower. Then add layers, just like a lasagna.

Add four layers of a moistened black and white newspaper over the area. Avoid slick coated, colored paper. And don’t try to spread paper on a windy day.

On top of the newspaper, lay a six- to eight-inch thick layer of straw or chopped leaves. On top of the straw, add a two- to three-inch thick layer of compost. Then just leave it.

Through the fall and winter, the layers will kill the grass leaving the nutrient-rich, decomposed sod in place. Earthworms will feed on the newspaper and straw turning it into humus.

By spring your bed is ready to plant. Pop seeds or transplants into the compost layer and water.

No maintenance required other than pulling the errant dandelion. But hey that’s okay, because we Italians know dandelion greens are great in lasagna, too!

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about crocus. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.