Lasagna beds

Lasagna gardening is about the neatest thing to hit the gardening world since the rebirth of organics. It’s been called sheet composting, or layer gardening as I used to know it, but the term lasagna garden was popularized in the late 1990s by Particia Lanza in a book and magazine articles. 

It involves no tilling or digging. You simply assemble organic materials and spread them on the earth as you would make lasagna.

You need a sunny site, but it can be a weedy lawn, field, hardpan, or nearly anything but pavement. Start with newspaper (I like 5 to 6 sheets) a sing;e layer of cardboard, and wet this down well. Then before the newspaper dries up and blows away, start buiding up the layers. Organic materials may include: 

Grass clippings

Peat moss

Rotten hay




Aged barn manure

Weeds which haven’t gone to seed

Fruit, vegetable, and dairy wastes from the kitchen


Pine Needles

Newspaper or junk mail

Coffee grounds (commonly available from Starbucks)

Garden soil (this or compost should be the top layer is you want to plant immediately.

Other amendments such as lime, bone meal, blood meal, or greensand.

As you build these layers, dampen them down well – especially the peat moss, leaves, and paper. And now you can plant, seeds of transplants (assuming the top layer of soil or compost is thick enough.)         

What happens now is that the first layer of wet newspaper or cardboard is a perfect environment for eatehworms, who will move in, have babies, aerate and loosten your soil, and fertilize with their castings while you’re taking a nap or eating blueberry pancakes.

We get leaves and chemical-free grass clippings from landscapers, free compost from the town transfer station, newspaper and cardboard from the same place, and free barn manure and old bedding from a fellow in the next town who fills my pickup truck with his tractor.

 All that’s left is to spread it out. Mother takes charge of the rest. What you end up with is a virtually weed-free bed of soft, fertile soil. Then keep adding to it as everything decomposes.

 Neat huh?

About lifegrower

Peter V. Fossel has been gardening since he was nine, and has been an organic farmer for the last 20 years. His most recent book, “Organic Farming, Everything You Need to know” was published by Voyageur Press, Minneapolis, 2007. He’s written numerous gardening articles for Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Country Journal, Out Here, and American Profile among others. He was Gardens Manager for The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson in Tennessee before returning to Cape Cod to start his newest organic venture, Swan River Farm in Dennisport, MA.
This entry was posted in I to N and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s