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The book is well laid out and not only gives you the how-to's for Lasagna Gardening, which I have just started 2, it also gives great advise on just about any gardening question you may have. With the Lasagna layering technics, I am going to start small little compost piles throughout my gardens.
I have one wish...that with the purchase of the book, they would give you a code for access to a website that would allow you to ask questions or research answers to questions that others have asked.
I got this book in 2000 and started right away with a 29 ft long flower bed along a fence and a smaller wedge-shaped space between perpendicular fences. My husband was skeptical and didn't think anything besides traditional digging would work. Because we were pressed for time he finally said if I got the plants he would help me. I reminded him that I already had the plants and just had to pick them up. My cousin worked at Spring Hill Nursery at the time and she and her neighbor had brought home several loads of leftover plants from the store in late June 2000. Hubby still insisted on turning over the sod, but then we put peat moss, newspaper, peat moss and planted right through those layers and finished it off with a thick layer of shredded bark mulch. The plants thrived and some of bloomed within 3 weeks.
The author lives in the country and has access to lots of different, free mulches, but those three worked for us. Now I usually also use compost/manure and throw in some bonemeal.
Since then I've done several more beds here (Dayton, OH) and at our lake house an hour N of here. I've layered over existing beds to keep down the weeds and to reclaim neglected spaces. 3 1/2 years ago in the fall, I layered over total sod to make a new bed. It worked very well to let the layers get the soil ready over the winter and I planted the next spring..
I've converted friends to this method, too. It's a lot less work than the usual digging. Of course, it's not a permanent thing, because the paper and mulch breaks down and has to be renewed. Every 2 years I layer around the plants again to keep the weeds controlled and add to the soil conditioning.
I have beds that need layering, but I have not done them because of bulbs underneath. But this year I am going to layer around them while they are blooming. The layers will be composted enough by next spring that they won't hinder sprouting of my spring beauties and will keep the weeds down this summer. It's definitely worth a try. Even my non-believing husband has been converted to less work!
I believe firsthand experience with "new" techniques is the only way that counts when it comes to determining what really works. Well, if you'd like to hear about this gardener's firsthand experience with Lasagna Gardening from way back in '03 when I first started, read on.
First, a short outline of lasagna gardening technique: soak b&w newspapers in water, then overlap sections in a single layer directly on top of premarked sod area. This smothers the weeds/grass underneath. Then put a 4 inch layer of moistened peat moss over that, followed by a moist layer of organic shredded green material, followed by another layer of peat moss, followed by a layer of moist compost or yard waste, repeat the peat moss/organic matter pattern until your bed is built up to at least 18 inches high. Finish with compost on top, then either let it break down for a few months for certain crops or plant seeds and transplants directly into the matrix by pushing aside layers and inserting. As the layers break down, the earthworms will be eating the sod and breaking up the newspapers, mixing the layers together for you. The final result is an organic, self-tilled soil that's rich and free of disease and weed seeds. It's so simple.
Note: the author did neglect to mention the importance of wetting down each layer as you build the beds. I only figured this out because I had made compost before and I knew you needed moist materials for it to work.
In late fall of 2002 I built a 5 foot by 25 foot border bed for perennial flowers the lasagna way after reading Patricia Lanza's book. It sounded almost too good to be true - no digging, no tilling, no weeding? What was the catch, I asked myself. When I was done I planted perennials taken from four inch pots, watered them in, and left them for the winter rains to take care of (we can do that in So. Cal, hee hee). They settled in nicely and grew steadily, but it was cool weather so the roots were doing most of the growth at that time. A few months later as top growth appeared I was encouraged to build more lasagna beds in my vegetable garden - two 5 by 5 raised beds to go with my other two traditionally tilled raised beds (those were a lot of work, double digging, sifting rocks, mixing compost, etc. I wish now that I had known about the lasagna method a few years ago!). After about two hour's work I was done layering my new vegetable beds and watered them down to compost a little. In late May, I transplanted sweet peppers and basil starts to one lasagna bed and planted cantaloupes and flowers in the other.
Those two lasagna beds outperformed the traditional beds in every way. That summer I harvested more sweet peppers than ever before. It was my first try growing cantaloupes, so I have no previous crops to compare, but they did well and I harvested quite a few delicious, sun-sweetened cantaloupes from that bed. Meanwhile the flowers seemed to love the soil in my perennial bed, and they grew to huge proportions, filling in the space nicely by season's end. As promised, there was little watering and even less weeding. As a bonus, I never fertilized because the soil was already so rich in composting organic matter. Best of all, no soil-borne diseases! This was an organic gardener's paradise.
In the past 5 years, these beds have continued to produce and perform very well. I only have to add a top layer of compost at the beginning of every Spring season before planting and I'm set for mulch and about half my fertilizer requirements. Later on after my maters and squash are well established I add one or two doses of diluted fish emulsion, just in case, and every winter I empty my fireplace ashes into the empty beds to ensure potassium. Throughout the year I layer my organic lawn clippings and kitchen scraps into the beds. It's a very neat way to use one's resources.
Author Patricia Lanza uses plenty of real-life examples from her own gardens to illustrate the effectiveness of this technique. She explains in detail how lasagna gardening differs from traditional tilling and double digging, what the benefits are and which crops need to wait while the layers compost down and which can be put in right away. There is an alphabetical listing of ways to plant annuals and seeds in lasagna beds, a plethora of tips on maximizing your space and innovating ways to grow vertically if need be. There are also garden plans for flower borders and perennial beds grouped according to watering and sunshine needs.
Please don't be afraid to break with "tradition" - you could save not only your garden tool budget, but your back as well. And if the promise of all those fruits, veggies and flowers with less work and more pleasure isn't enough for you, then you must really love that rototiller!
I was interested in this book because I had a small space for a garden and wanted to make the very most of it. This garden has AMAZED me. Last year was a plentiful cucumber harvest, even with the severe drought and heat we had in Alabama. I planted 3 cucumber plants that yielded 400 cucumbers before I pulled them up (there were still blooms on the plants)! This book also gave me the idea to grow my cuc plants up a trellis and over the fence to save space in my small garden. It is a must read!
This book explains everything you would want to know about lasagna gardening. It starts with the very basics of building a lasagna garden, and expands on growing herbs, vegetables, berries, and flowers in that garden.
I'm sold on the no till, no weeding way of gardening. This book is a great resource for that type of gardening.