Organic Gardening: Do It like a Pro
While gardening has many health benefits, it also involves a lot of hard work: prepping the soil for planting, keeping down weeds, and controlling pests, to name just a few. The truth is that you can labor more efficiently and save yourself time and effort if you do lasagna layers.
Lasagna or no-dig gardening is an easy and efficient method that requires a little amount of prep. You just apply organic material in layers to create nutritious, healthy soil that you don’t have to till or weed. It is also a way to deal with your kitchen and garden waste in an environmentally responsible way. You not only grow organic vegetables but also do your part to fight for a sustainable future for nature.
Fall is a good time to begin a lasagna garden as this will give you plenty of time for organic material to slowly decompose into a nutrient-rich, fertile soil. In springtime, you will have fresh compost that smells and feels like dark, rich earth and will help garden plants and crops to grow.
To create your lasagna-style garden, you need to build simple raised beds on a sunny plot of land. The first layer is made of branches and twigs that won’t compress when you add more layers. This foundation allows air to circulate through your garden beds and speed up decomposition.
Top the foundation with a layer of carbon-rich materials such as cardboard, shredded newspaper, sawdust, wood chips, hay, and dry leaves. Make a nitrogen layer on top of the carbon one, using materials such as plant cuttings, coffee grounds, grass clippings, and vegetable scraps. Most of the materials you need can be found at home.
Continue alternating the carbon and nitrogen layers and end with a carbon layer to deter insects and birds. Put your garden to sleep over the winter. In spring when the soil is crumbly and loose, you are ready to plant. Crumbly, loose soil provides optimum drainage, aeration, and water holding capacity. It is also the ideal habitat for beneficial microorganisms that decompose organic matter and improve soil structure.
As you probably know, weeds cut off plant nutrient supply and can damage your garden. When your plants are not getting enough potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus, they become more vulnerable to insect infestation and disease.
Weeds also compete with garden plants for sunlight, space, and moisture and give shelter to a variety of pests and insects. On top of this, some weeds are harmful to humans and can cause poisoning, allergies, and skin irritation. You simply don’t want weeds in your garden. The solution? Starting a lasagna garden will block weeds out.
Building raised beds is an excellent way to insulate your garden from weeds like thistle, white clover, and speargrass. If you build the beds properly, weeds will not even get the chance to germinate. Adding layers of newspaper and cardboard further inhibits weed growth.
Pest and Disease Control
Nutritious, healthy soil is a welcoming environment for microorganisms that suppress insect pests and provide protection against disease. Rich soil supports the growth of a diverse microbial ecosystem that improves resistance against insects and pathogens below and above ground. Microorganisms in soil are also essential for growth and survival as they help improve plant response to ultraviolet radiation, heavy metals, high salinity, excessive water, and extreme temperatures.
Because organic material produces nutrient-rich soil where microorganisms thrive, lasagna gardening deters pests and plants are grown without the need of commercial-grade pesticides. Studies also show that the use of compost aids the management of fungi, weeds, and insect pests.
There is also evidence that compost amendments to the soil support a diverse ecosystem of predatory arthropods like carabid beetles and spiders as well as mites and fungi. Predator abundance has been shown to reduce pest infestations and weed growth. The resulting reduction of pesticide usage contributes to soil health and is good for the environment. Commercial pesticides cause serious soil and groundwater contamination, pollination decline, and bird and fishery losses. Using compost, on the other hand, helps regenerate soil, reduces landfill waste and associated environmental pollution, and promotes the biodegradation of pesticides.
Lasagna gardening is easy and fun, requires little effort and physical strain, and produces loads of nutritious organic vegetables. You can grow a variety of plants that perform well in a lasagna-style garden, including tomatoes, leafy greens, root vegetables, onions, and potatoes. You only need organic materials that can be found in your kitchen and yard, and there is no cultivating, tilling, or digging involved.
As organic matter decomposes, it enriches the soil, promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, and reduces the need for pesticides. This is how you start an edible garden to avoid exposure to harmful toxins and pesticides and enjoy tasty organic produce.