Experiences and ideas on: Lasagna Gardening Techniques


6 Years
Jul 13, 2013
SW Kansas
This coming fall, just as soon as we bring in the last bit of harvest, will be our first try at a Lasagna Garden bed!

We are using a mix of cardboard/newspaper and used straw/compost.
Any and all input......
Okay, not a popular subject....hmm.

Here's some idea of what Lasagna Gardening is: Basically taking composting to a new level!

Start with a layer of cardboard/newspaper/etc - this will kill out existing grass and weeds, keeping sunlight from reaching seeds and will decompose fairly quickly.

Add a layer of "green" - grass clippings, kitchen scraps, existing compost, (I will use old straw bedding from my coop)

Add a layer of "brown" - thin cardboard, newspaper,

Repeat to desired thickness -

If these steps are taken in the fall, the layers will have created a compost and you can simply add the plants in the spring. I will add more straw on top once the plants.
I tried this before but I always get bored and then something shiny draws my attention. Just like when I was going to start labeling everything I planted instead of playing the guessing game at the seedling or flower stage. I have tons of the materials, they just don't move by them selves into place and I'm so absent minded I don't move them either. If I can remember, I normally just toss a big pile of rabbit poo on everything. I really wish I had the time and where withall to do this.
This actually will save me a good amount of time in the Spring and the Summer (my busiest time of year)! I have spent so much time and energy this year weeding and fertilizing our garden. With all the materials together, my family and I will have a weekend Fall project that we will reap the benefit all next year. It also helps that I have a young family, and we are ecstatic about being more reliant on the healthy food we can grow.
I do a variation of this type of planting. I've found the cardboard or newspaper layer too much like work to dig through come early spring when I get the urge to start planting peas and spinach. These sheet paper products are not decomposed enough to easily plant.

So, I save my 'clean out the files before getting ready for taxes' shredding for the late late fall (early winter? end of October or early November-ish). I spend a day or two shredding EVERYTHING I can get a hold of. My Staples cross-cut paper shredder gets quite a workout these few days! I put the shreddings as I go directly into the garden. I typically take over the kitchen table, right near the backdoor to do this project. I heap as much as I can over each bed - usually about a 4" layer. Then, I put compost on top of the paper. Then I top the whole kit and caboodle with leaves.

The first year I expected the leaves to blow off - nope. By the time I was done, I had about 12" on each of my raised beds. By early March, when I wanted to plant peas, most of the beds had 'dissolved' to about 3" tall. By May, it was all gone and I needed to add mulch to keep water in for the hot summer days!

I also found a neat product at Farm & Fleet - "Nu Straw" - it's straw that's chopped into little 2" pieces. No seeds. The straw I obtain from our feed store always has seeds. Here's the link for the product: http://www.farmandfleet.com/products/632678-amturf-ultra-nu-straw-bale.html#.UivIRL4o6M8 Worked like a charm around tomatoes and green peppers. Didn't try it in the green beans, I ran out of the bale. So, next year I need a LOT more of this product!

The best part about that product? It's the beginnings of this year's lasagna garden! Wohoo! Now, to gather stuff to start shredding...nights are getting cooler....
I almost always have a variation of a lasagna garden started in my regular garden. Any where I have a bare spot, or any where I want to squeeze in an other bed for the next year, I start layering materials. I start with trench composting. Every time I bring out some kitchen waste, I dig a hole, and dump the waste. Then I dig my next hole right beside the waste, dumping THAT soil on the waste. That gives me the hole for the next bucket full. I continue on down the row. After that, I start with layering stuff on top, almost always with newspaper or cardboard first.

We bought a ride on mower with attached bagger. That has been a huge blessing. No more piles of grass clippings every where, with stuff tracked into the house. Now those clippings go exactly where I want them: mulching my potatoes, DL in the lower level of the hoop coop, in the lasagna beds. I've also noticed that my lawn is less weedy with the bagger. Those weed seeds end up in the compost to decompose. I haven't noticed my garden being any more weedy b/c I do a deep year round mulch.

Back to lasagna gardening: I even bury lobster shells in the trench. By the following spring, there's very little sign of them. When I do fall clean up, I put all that good stuff on the row, and I chase it with some straw or spoiled hay. When ever the farmers have a crop of hay get wet, their curse is my blessing, as I can get the hay real cheap. Hay is real seedy, but, again, not a problem for me with deep mulch.

In a good year, I can complete a bed about 2' x 3' x 15'. The stuff just melts into my soil. Started with sandy loam in this spot, it is becoming very loose, and black.

The chickens were purchased to be little garden helpers. They have done a great job, and have now been turned loose in the garden, surrounded by electronet fencing until the ground freezes up. They'll be allowed to work the soil until I'm ready to plant in the spring.
I lasagna layer my garden every winter. I take old cardboard and layer that with bunny poo and chicken compost also hay. I just use whatever I have saved up and it breaks down pretty good by the time I am ready to plant it again. I do have a small winter garden area but I usually let my larger garden rest and start it up again in the spring for warmer weather crops.
I started my first new area. I will have to wait a bit longer for my main garden area, because it is still producing. I just hope that the cardboard helps to nullifying the chicken compost, I am concerned because the hay pile/chicken manure is not a year old yet. I know that chicken poo is extremely potent and needs to break down for awhile. I will just have to cross my fingers that it won't be too much for my plants next year
This week, I planted potatoes, Egyptian onions, and garlic in a 4' wide bed, then covered all with grass clippings, leaves hay and garden debris. Hopefully, the heavier garden debris on top of the lighter stuff will deter the girls from digging down to the soil in that area. I've also planted my winter greens in 2 hay bale cold frames... about 3' x 7.5' each. These beds will be covered with plastic. I should be able to harvest starting at the end of the month, and through November, then can start harvesting again in early March.

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