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Lasagna Gardening for the Herb Gardener

| 11/9/2010 9:50:43 AM

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.”

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. 

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