I called my father and told him he had to come over and check out my lasagna garden that I installed. I could hear the confusion in his voice when he said, “You are growing lasagna in your garden?” Obviously he was picking on me, but in truth he had no idea what I was talking about, and until recently I had never heard of a lasagna garden either.
Gardening is fairly new to me. I planted a small garden about five years ago and it was an epic fail! Last year I decided to try one more time, but since I don’t even own a tiller I decided to build a small raised bed with a few 10 ft 1×6 boards. I filled it with nothing but top soil and threw some tomatoes and squash in there. Again… I had no idea what I was doing, but somehow I managed to yield a lot of squash and tomatoes in spite of the fact that I thought top soil was a great idea. It was just enough of a success that it inspired to me to go bigger this year.
I decided to rent a large tiller from our local equipment supply company and attempt to till a large area for my garden. My super sweet daddy came over to supply the manual labor, but apparently the amount of rain that we get down here in Louisiana every spring makes this job difficult for everyone. It was beginning to feel impossible! I had transplants that needed to get planted in the ground, but the rain just kept coming. All that dirt that he tilled was beginning to grow back up with grass and weeds. I had rented a tiller for nothing, because it was going to need to be tilled again. Then someone told me to google the term “lasagna garden.”
I spent hours and hours watching lasagna gardening videos on YouTube where people were building raised beds and filling them with various layers of material that would eventually break down into a rich fertile soil! I was mesmerized at the concept of layering nitrogen and carbon rich materials, one on top of the other, until I had a box full of material to grow my vegetables. Since I had already managed to be somewhat successful last year with a box full of top soil, I decided to give this lasagna garden concept a try this year!
Lasagna Garden Bed Frames
I ran out to my local hardware store and purchased six 10 ft 2×8 treated pine boards. I brought them home to my husband and asked him to cut two of them in half and to screw them together with his drill making two 10×5 size boxes that I laid on the ground. Then I ran up to my local Dollar General store where they had tons and tons of cardboard boxes stacked up next to their dumpster, and I loaded my car full of them. Those cardboard boxes were then spread out flat on the ground inside the garden frames that my husband put together for me so that it created a weed barrier. Eventually the grass and weeds will die because the cardboard boxes are smothering them.
Time to Start Layering
After I had my garden frames lined with cardboard boxes I began searching for material that I could start layering on top of the cardboard. I learned that a lasagna garden layers carbon and nitrogen rich materials just like you would find in a compost pile. So that’s where I started.
I removed all of the compost from my compost bin… even the compost that wasn’t completely broken down. That compost was divided among the two garden beds covering the cardboard. Then I found a ton of dead leaves that I mulched with my lawnmower, and I spread those out on top of the compost material. After that I decided that it was time to mow the yard for the first time this spring, and I put all the grass clippings in my raised beds on top of those dead leaves. You see where I’m going here? I just kept adding layers of brown and green materials, and I had a lot of help from one of my Farm Raised Kids who loves to be outside working with me.
When to Start Preparing Your Lasagna Garden
The idea of a lasagna garden is that you can layer the materials which will eventually break down into beautiful soil that is perfect for planting a garden. Most people begin preparing their lasagna garden beds in the fall so that it is ready for planting in the spring. As with most things I decide to do, I waited too late to plan for that. I am not the best at planning for stuff like this. But that’s okay! I found a YouTube video that showed me how to create a lasagna garden bed that would allow me to plant immediately.
I ran up to WalMart and bought the least expensive brand of compost/humus that I could find. I spread about a two inch thick layer of that on top of everything else I had already layered in my beds. Then I added about two inches of Garden Soil that I bought by the bag as well. Once I had all of those layers in place, it was time to plant some veggies!
What I Planted in My Lasagna Garden
I used one of my raised beds to plant quite a few tomato plants that I bought as transplants, and a few cucumber seeds that I planted right into the dirt. I installed a trellis for my cucumbers by placing two pallets that I leaned against each other while securing them with large zip ties. I can’t WAIT to see these cucumbers trailing up the sides of those pallets! Next year I want to install a hog panel as a trellis and create an arch of some sort. I’m still thinking about that one.
In the other raised bed I planted quite a few zucchini plants that were ready to go in the ground, and I used the rest of the space to plant some squash seeds that took NO TIME to start coming up. Squash and Zucchini are probably one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Even my black thumb managed to keep those alive last year!
I am now in the process of layering two more sets of raised beds. One of those beds will be full of peppers, and the other bed will be full of okra. As you can see from my failed attempt to till a garden directly in the dirt, I have a lot of space for raised beds. We have a super long growing season down here in Louisiana (zone 8b) where it gets hot and humid, so I will probably keep adding a bed or two here and there. Luckily we have an amazing agriculture division with LSU who is readily available to answer any questions I may have about growing fruits and vegetables. It’s a good thing because I’m going to need that. I’m still figuring this thing out as I go along, but I am thankful that some of you are interested in our journey.