• 02Sep

    This year hasn’t been the best for my vegetables. I’m afraid that the tree I love and hate has grown, and is perhaps casting a bit too much shade over the vegetable garden. So I’m going to put some raised beds in a sunnier location for next spring. Originally, I knew the sun was better in that spot, but the ground was lower and I worried about drainage issues. Raised beds will take care of that.

    Since leaves are never in short supply, I’m going to start the beds this fall, do the lasagna method, and by spring, I should have some nice, crumbly worm-filled soil. There are a number of ways to do the lasagna method and you can Google for more info.

    What I like about it most is that you don’t have to til the soil. We don’t have a tiller, so I end up renting one from a rental store. There are advantages to tilling, and the biggest one is it exposes bad bug eggs and they die. But in virgin soil with grass on top, I think the only pest is Japanese beetle eggs and grubs. The *second* year is when the cucumber beetles and other pests lay eggs. I might be wrong, but that’s what I think based on years of gardening and my own common sense.

    The disadvantages of tilling: you expose weed seeds and assist weed growth; and you chop up the earthworms. You also destroy long strands of fungi that benefit plant roots and the soil.

    I do lasagna with the things I have on hand, but it’s usually about the same:

    1. A good layer of newspapers and/or cardboard. It’s a good time to clear out those Amazon boxes I’ve piled in a corner of the basement. That smothers the grass and makes a good base. Some people use weed killer (either chemical or vinegar-based), but I think that’s a waste. The papers/cardboard will do it just fine.

    2. Then I begin layers of chopped up leaves (I suck, chop and save using my wonderful Leaf Hog from Black and Decker plus trash can attachment) and grass clippings. If I have no grass clippings, just any kind of green material. Sometimes I buy a big bag of alfalfa meal or alfalfa pellets from the feed store. It’s great stuff: use it to make alfalfa tea (nitrogen fertilizer) and add to the compost pile if I’m low on green materials to get the pile cooking.

    3. The instructions usually say add layers of peat moss. I prefer not to use peat moss because this is not a renewable resource and peat bogs will eventually run out. So I use coir, a by-product of coconut shells. It’s fabulous stuff, and I also use it as potting soil (helps prevent mold, too!). Most of the time I leave this out because I have to drive about thirty minutes to get to an organic store and I don’t think it’s a requirement.

    I’ve also been known to just do newspapers, leaves and sprinkle blood meal on top. I like to buy blood meal in fall when places like Wal Mart put it on clearance.

    Or, you can save up some urine and pour that on. Sounds nasty, but it’s a perfect source of high-nitrogen to start breaking those leaves and paper down into nice humus. The great thing about urine is that you’ve got an unlimited source, it’s free, and unless you have a bladder infection, it’s sterile.

    Another source of course is manure if you have access to that. A neighbor with pet rabbits is the best thing in the world if you garden! They’ll love you forever for taking care of the rabbit poo, and you’ve got a source of good manure.

    That’s it. Lasagna method is easy to do, a lot less work, and the bonus is you’ve got a good base in spring. Plus worms and other goodies.

    Oh, and keep it watered as best you can if it doesn’t rain or snow.

    Filed under: To Do

    Posted: September 2, 2008 at 9:42 pm

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