I hope by now, whether you are a new gardener or a seasoned one looking to shake up their garden, that you have looked further into Square Foot Gardening. I seriously can not stress how happy I am with our decision to give it a go. It really has allowed us to grow a nice amount here in our first year. But it wasn’t the only gardening short cut we used to get us growing.
As I mentioned before, we built our raised beds quite a bit before actually getting them into action. Life got the better of us. Through the power of Pinterest, I read about a concept called lasagna gardening. That link is way better with detail on things you can put in and talking about how you do it than the one I originally saw. But the concept is basically this: don’t till your soil, build raised beds and fill it with layers of good stuff so as to both suppress anything underneath as well at provide your plants with loads of nutrition.
I knew if we waited to remove the grass and till the soil that this garden would go yet another year with nothing going on. So we went for it over last winter dumping in newspapers and mulched leaves and grass. Then we topped it in the spring with a layer of cardboard and our SFG mix of peat moss, cow manure and (in our case) Miracle Grow garden soil. To sum it up quickly, lasagna gardening went just so-so for us. LOTS of weeds in 1 bed, but successful in the other. But I DO think it was our fault and NOT the fault of the concept.
Here’s where we went wrong:
- Cut the grass first! That may sound obvious, and we knew it was risky. But waiting longer was a risk of never getting around to it. Over the winter we had dumped in grass clipping and chopped leaves and layers of newspaper with the intent of getting soil in as soon as possible. Life happened and so the grass was sneakily growing under all this stuff. And by grass I mean our weeds. So my thought here is, when you are ready, you need to scalp your spot down to a bare as you can and then start and finish layering all in on day/weekend. Don’t lolly-gag around on this.
- Cardboard goes down on the bottom. Oops! We put it on top of leaves and grass. Probably would have done a better job suppressing weeds if it was on the bottom.
- LOTS of layers. Ogres have layers, onions have layers…and this lasagna garden needs loads too. We did some brown and some green and then added our SFG mix. I think if we had done a lot more layers, this would have helped create an even better mix for healthy plants and done a better job keeping these weed monsters at bay.
- Alternate layers of green and brown. Another oops! We did some thin layers of newspaper on the bottom, then a dumping of mulched up fall leaves, then some grass and then cardboard. You definitely need to alternate you green and brown for more layers than we did. The lasagna gardening link above has a great picture of lots of different green and brown layers you could use.
At the time of layering, blogging wasn’t on my horizon so I don’t have pictures. But we do have plans to expand our gardening in the future. So I will absolutely make sure to get pictures when those days come. Even if I do remove the grass in its entirety first this next time, I will still use lasagna gardening to create a great home for worms and delicious in ground compost for my plants. The main reason I want to remove the grass is because I want to rearrange my veggie beds to maximize the flat, super sunny space in my yard. This will make my bed closer together than a lawn mower can cope with and so I want a non-living path between them.
Taller raised beds are nice for your back at any age. Since SFG only requires you to use 6 inch depth of Mel’s Mix, I personally think lasagna gardening is a great way to cheaply fill the lower portion of your raised bed in a beneficial and healthy way. You can get everything you need for the layers just by asking friends and neighbors to save grass clippings, leaves, uncooked kitchen scraps, etc. The take away is this: please consider lasagna gardening to get you growing in a fast and effective way…just do it the right way and don’t goof it up like I did. Its not too late to grab the bull by the horns and grow (or expand) a lovely fall garden for yourself!