We all know that rich soil leads to healthy plants. Digging in compost is too much work, you say? Agreed! Digging is too much work. Just thinking about using a shovel makes me want to pave my yard and paint it green.
But since I want plants (happy plants!) to enjoy, eat and live with, I must do something to build up the soil. And there is my answer. Built it UP. Don’t dig it IN. Raised beds filled with layers of organic materials will become rich soil. We supply the raw ingredients. Nature will do the rest – like magic.
It’s called Lasagna Gardening and is my new favorite thing, even though it’s as old as the hills. There are as many ‘recipes’ for the lasagna that makes rich soil as there are people. Here’s a simple one that can be repeated until you get to the depth of soil you want.
1. The “plate” is your original soil and/or plantings. No need to dig up your grass. Or weeds. Start with whatever you have. But if you have gophers, put a layer of wire mesh on top of the soil.
2. The bottom layer of your lasagna is one inch of manure. It attracts beneficial bacteria from the existing soil that will mix up all the layers.
3. Next is a half-inch layer of overlapping newspaper (no color pages) or cardboard. Once you lay it down, soak it with water. This will help kill the layer of vegetation underneath it, providing the right environment for turning it into compost.
4. Make a manure / cardboard / manure sandwich with one more inch of manure.
5. Top the manure sandwich with a thick layer of dry mulch (8-12”) like alfalfa hay, dried leaves or wood chips. This is a weed barrier as well as providing air needed to make fluffy soil.
6. Add a couple of inches of moist greens (grass clippings, peelings, green leaves).
7. Put compost (one inch) on top of the greens and wet thoroughly.
8. Repeat last four layers (manure, mulch, greens, compost) until you get to the depth of garden you want.
9. Finish with a 2 inch layer of seedless (important!) mulch and voila! Soil. You can plant right away, and the soil will only get better with age.
10. Keep adding manure, compost and mulch and you will not believe how happy your plants will be. With NO digging!