Mother Earth Living

In the Garden

Get down and dirty in the garden

Add to My MSN

Lasagna Gardening for the Herb Gardener

11/9/2010 9:50:43 AM

Tags: Jessy Rushing, Gardening Books, Lasagna Gardening, Tips, Techniques, How To

J.RushingJessy Rushing is a Texas gardener who fell in love with herbs after tripping into a rosemary shrub one day. The scent on her clothes cheered her up all afternoon. Her curiosity was aroused and since then her herb gardening has been part investigation, part experimentation and most importantly, part delight. 

My husband, Norman, grew up planting no-frills veggie gardens to help feed his six siblings. He was skeptical of my plan, to say the least. “Too simple,” he said. “It can’t be that easy.” It sounded too good to be true to me, too, but I’m game for any garden experiment.

Armed with my highlighted and dog-eared copy of Patricia Lanza’s wonderful book, Lasagna Gardening, we got to work. We started small, still a little leery of this “new-fangled gardening idea." I planted a 2 feet by 4 feet herb garden in the spring and by summer any lingering doubts about lasagna gardening were gone.

What is this magical method? It’s organic, chemical free gardening with no need for digging, double digging, tilling, heavy machinery or back-breaking work. Like my sister-in-law Lucy’s lasagna, the key to lasagna gardening is in the layers. Organic material and mulch materials are layered, creating a small ecosystem where your plants will thrive. As Patricia says in her book, “Organic mulches feed your soil, and the soil feeds your plants.”

11-9-2010-1
I added layers of organic mulches to my own garden.
Photo by Jessy Rushing
 

The list of lasagna ingredients and mulches will vary around the country, but the basics are available nearly everywhere—newspapers, shredded leaves, grass clippings, compost, peat moss, manure, kitchen scraps and coffee grounds. Check your local Starbucks—the ones I frequent give away bags of free coffee grounds. Don’t use cat or dog feces. Their droppings may carry diseases or parasites. Also, no meat, fat, bone and fish scraps from the kitchen—they break down too slowly, attract unwanted critters and smell bad. 

Once you’ve staked out the area for your new garden and gathered your ingredients, you’re ready to begin. First, cover the area with a thick (3 to 4 inches) layer of wet, overlapping newspaper.  Don’t use the Sunday funnies, slick magazine inserts or colorful ads. I soak my papers in a #3 washtub, making sure every inch of them is sodden, then lay them down in sheets, overlapping as I go.  Next, cover the wet newspapers with 2 to 3 inches of peat moss (available an any garden store). Then, add 3 plus inches of organic material—grass clippings, manure, compost, leaves, etc. Add another layer of peat moss and continue alternating layers of organic material and peat moss until your bed is 18- to 24-inches-high.

Here’s the best part—your garden is ready for planting! Just pull apart the layers and pop in your plant and wait for it to flourish. You can plant seeds in your lasagna garden, too. Just top the bed with fine compost or damp peat moss, set the seeds on the surface, cover with some sifted peat moss, and tamp it lightly. The wet newspapers will keep out the weeds and the organic material will slowly break down, further feeding your plants—everyone wins! 

11-9-2010-2
Small knockout roses planted next to the herbs.
Photo by Jessy Rushing
 

With fall upon us I’m going to build a bed and let it “cook” until early spring. I’ll follow the steps above like I did in my small herb garden, then cover it with black plastic weighed down at the edges with bricks.

Since it’s going to cook all winter, I’ll put in about four times as much brown, high-carbon materials like peat moss, leaves, hay or straw as I do green, high-nitrogen goodies like grass clippings, kitchen scraps and fresh manure.

11-9-2010-3
Jessy's beloved rosemary in a lasagna garden.
Photo by Jessy Rushing
  

I wish I had discovered Patricia Lanza’s method decades ago. I could have prevented the wasted time, money and torture! The aching back, the cement-like ground and that runaway tiller are all a distant memory now. Do yourself an enormous favor and check out Patricia’s books. In addition to Lasagna Gardening, she has also written Lasagna Gardening with Herbs, Lasagna Gardening in Small Spaces and more. Your plants will thank you and so will your back.

Though an old man I am but a young gardener.—Thomas Jefferson 



Related Content

Meatless Monday? Try Meatless Month!

Guest blogger KyLynn Hull goes without meat for a month. Try her meatless recipes!

Grow a Balcony Herb Garden in the City

Grow a balcony herb garden to reap the many benefits of herbs while living in the city.

Healthy, Herbal Vegan Recipes: Vegan Cheesy Lasagna

Adding recipes like this Vegan Cheesy Lasanga to your meal plan could do more than please your taste...

Rosemary and Gardenias: Everything You Always Wanted to Know

Ever had trouble growing rosemary outdoors, or getting it to survive past winter? Want to learn ever...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 

MY COMMUNITY
no image
valerykenery
8/29/2014 12:04:10 AM
no image
HarvestRight
8/21/2014 5:22:39 PM
no image
NatureHillsNursery
8/20/2014 10:03:07 AM
no image
NatureHillsNursery
8/20/2014 9:59:22 AM
no image
NatureHillsNursery
8/20/2014 9:30:07 AM
no image
melisastarr
8/19/2014 12:57:22 PM
no image
Peggy McMahan
8/18/2014 11:29:51 AM
no image
lorina21
8/17/2014 10:16:45 PM


Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.