lasagna garden

It's been a while since I've done a garden update. Summer is really hanging on this year, so even though the plants are looking a little worse for wear, at least they're still producing. My back yard bale garden is fairly ragged by this point. The bales are sinking, and most of my tomato plants were struck with blight, but they yielded fruit anyway, enough for several batches of Daniel's favorite late summer dish: gazpacho!

Sad, bedraggled tomatoes.
I often say that our back yard is a work in progress. We've had seven trees removed in the last two years, so a lot of space opened up, which is both good and bad. Parking the cars isn't such a squeeze (good) but we feel a lot more exposed to the neighbors (not so good, but not always terrible, depending on the neighbor). There is definitely more space and light for gardening (good), but the weeds are taking over all the empty space (bad).  The kids have more room to play (good), but all the extra sun makes it hotter back there on warm days (eh, they can deal).

Since my straw bale garden was at least partially successful, I've been thinking about how to expand that garden space out back. The soil has got to be terrible, full of weeds and tree roots and spruce cones. There is no point in digging down and trying to amend, so I want to build up. But how? I'm hesitant to install something permanent like raised beds because we're still holding out hope that the big renovation can happen next year, and I'm guessing our back yard will be used to park big trucks and store materials until they're used.

Then yesterday my next door neighbor (the nice one) suggested we try lasagna gardening, a method of building a garden where you put down thick cardboard and newspaper to smother weeds, then pile organic matter on top to break down and turn into soil. Easy enough, I thought. So this afternoon, instead of cleaning the house and working on some other projects in the basement like I'd been intending, I spent a few hours outside spreading cardboard and newspaper and covering it with compost and the straw bales with nothing left growing in them. Now this is what I've got:

It's not pretty, I know. And eventually I need 24" of stuff piled up on there to break down over the winter; right now it's only about 4".

Not only is the back yard a work in progress, it's going to look worse before it looks better. That's true of everything in my house, though, alas!


Anonymous said…
Lasagna. Lasagne. The first is accepted by the dictionary, and my American dictionary, but he second is the spelling used in two Italian cookbooks I have. Interesting.

Have you talked to your mother about spreading newspapers and cardboard in a garden? She has been doing it, with some success. But she has not piled good soil on top.


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