Gardening Uncategorized

Lasagna Gardening

Anyone who has tried lasagna gardening will be sure to tell you how much easier it is than traditional methods of preparing soil.  It is a procedure for building up soil, usually in a raised bed for a flower or vegetable garden, that basically involves layering different organic materials on top of each other – perhaps separated by cardboard or newspaper – in a manner similar to making a Lasagna.

Making a lasagna garden is a great way to build quality soil for your vegetable garden on the cheap.  Rather than buying expensive soil mixes from Home Depot or Lowes, you can just deposit the basic ingredients of a soil mix into your garden bed and let the processes of nature take care of mixing them together over time.  Earthworms and bacteria work for free after all!

If you have ready access to free materials such as compost, lawn clippings, manure and dead leaves, your soil will be practically free.  Even if you don’t you will find that purchase compost to supplement what you do have is a lot cheaper than filling an entire bed with expensive Miracle Gro.

A great thing about a no dig gardening method like this is you can just do it on top of an existing lawn area.  Simply start with a layer of cardboard to slow down the lawns growth – this should keep it under control until it gives up on trying to grow back and dies due to the lack of sunlight.

A great benefit of lasagna gardening to create a raised bed is that all your gardening will be done a foot or two above the ground.  This eliminates a lot of the crouching involved in most gardening, and makes life a lot easier on your back.  When I used to do row vegetable gardening I would dread getting outside and pulling weeds, as my back would always complain about it the next day!

Lasagna GardeningLayering with cardboard is great for the aisles between raised beds too.  Weeds will grow anywhere given half a chance, but placing a sheet of cardboard between seeds and sunlight will prevent many of them ever seeing the light of day.

Whether you are a new vegetable gardener getting involved in square foot gardening, or just looking for an easy way to expand your beds, lasagna gardening is well worth looking into!  I recommend this book if you want more information.




Gardening Uncategorized

Square Foot Gardening

One gardening method I have found really useful when space is limited is the technique of square foot gardening.  Pioneered by Mel Bartholomew in the 1980s, there are a series of books available explaining the tips and tricks to making Square Foot Gardening work for you, I recommend this one, the All New Square Foot Gardening book.

Basically, the system consists of using small footprint raised beds for your veggie gardening.  By training your vegetables to grow vertically you can really squeeze a large crop into a relatively small area.  The value of this is obvious if you are one of those people who has a very small yard! Some people recommend the use of Lasagna Gardening techniques when building small raised beds, but this is optional.

As well as being a great way to overcome space constraints, this ‘technology’ has many other benefits.  Firstly, it is a lot easier to work a raised bed garden than it is to work the more traditional rows.  Since they are raised you will find you do not have to bend so far to pull weeds, eliminate bugs, etc…  Also, since they are relatively small, you can easily weed a significant fraction of your gardening space in a very short period of time.

Square foot gardening is great for companion planting too.  Since everything is growing quite close together – the plantings are done in a square formation rather than a row – you can easily gain the benefits of companion plantings.  For example, sewing a crop of carrots in your tomato bed will yield you a nice harvest of carrots before the tomato plants grow large enough to crowd them out.

Water savings are another plus.  You quite simply need less water to water a small garden.  Also, it is a lot cheaper to setup an irrigation system for a square foot garden than it is for row upon row of traditional gardens – the amount of hose and sprinklers needed is greatly reduced.  If you go the irrigation route you can setup an automated watering solution, which can be very handy if you are as bad at remembering to water your vegetable garden as I am!

Mels Square Foot Gardening books are listed here.  I personally recommend the  system as a great way to enhance your gardening enjoyment.  More detailed information on this type of gardening here.