Are you sick of paying high prices for organic fruit and vegetables? Would you like to grow your own organic produce, but now sure where to start? I’d bet you will love this no fuss way to start your own vegetable garden as much I do.
Growing your own tasty vegetables can be very easy. Sometimes we tend to over complicate things with seven different types of fertilizer, contemplating for two months what type of mulch to buy, if any, and how often to water. Unfortunately, many people can’t even bother with a veggie or container garden because they figure it is just too much work and they are overwhelmed with all the different options when it comes to soil etc.
A no fuss approach to grow organic produce
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to just “set it and forget it”? A no fuss technique? Well, there is! It is commonly known as the lasagna gardening method.
- Mow the area and remove large weeds
- Lay down cardboard and/or newspapers
- Water the area
- Layer organic materials
- Water the area
- Add good quality garden soil
This is the lasagna garden technique in a nutshell: You spend an afternoon in year one setting your plot up. You start off mowing the lawn and removing any big weeds. Then you put down a layer of cardboard or newspapers to suppress the grass and weeds. Give it a good water so it doesn’t fly away (yes, I speak from experience haha). Then you layer any organic materials you can get your hands on such as grass clippings, leaves, straw, compost, kitchen waste and coffee grounds. Then you water everything and finish off with a thick layer of good quality garden soil. And then the hard work is done! The maintenance of the garden throughout the year is minimal. It is estimated that you can do it in eight hours a year. I don’t count the hours I spend maintaining my vegetable garden because to me it is a hobby and something I thoroughly enjoy doing.
The best part is that with the lasagna gardening method all you have to do come spring is to add compost. No digging. No turning the soil. No driving to five garden centres for three types of fertilizers that isn’t available but is on order. Once you have set it up in the spring you just take a step back and let Mother Nature take over.
You don’t need a lot of space
You don’t need a big backyard to get started with your own veggie garden. In fact, you just need a minimum of an 8×8 plot. This small space can produce lots of delicious produce that will save you a ton of money on your grocery bill.
You can use this method in any country in the world
The method is not specific for just one type of climate. You can use this method no matter where you live (OK, now I will probably get stern emails from some base camp in the North Pole saying this technique doesn’t work for them – sorry). There are satisfied gardeners in the USA, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, South Africa and many other places, all using the same simple technique.
An unconventional setup
When my neighbour looks over the fence at my unconventional vegetable garden, she is always amazed how packed it is with veggies. It looks like a jungle! I can tell that she is torn because this is definitely not a normal way of growing vegetables. No soil is showing between the rows and it may look a bit overgrown for a non-gardener. The vegetables dominate the garden space, so weeds are virtually nonexistent – and the few that pop up I just pull up and leave on the soil to turn to compost. Using this method was like driving in the wrong side of the road at first but after having seen the results I will never go back to the way I used to grow vegetables.
The abundance of greens is incredible and I have to keep cutting back, so chard and spinach leaves don’t overflow onto the lawn and get mulched by the lawnmower. I have invited neighbours over to pick whatever they want for their salads. I refer to my vegetable garden as the “salad bar” because it is just one big mix of greens.
One of the the drawbacks with regular vegetable gardens that are grown in spaced out rows, is that a lot of soil is exposed. Exposed soil will dry out fast in the summer sun. The goal in a lasagna garden is not to see any soil at all. You want the leaves of the vegetables to cover the ground, to prevent the soil to turn into sand or big deep drought cracks. This means that you have to water a lasagna garden a lot less that a regular veggie garden. Once the seedlings have been established, I usually just water the plants once a week during the summer.
It does take a bit of effort to get your lasagna garden set up the first year. You will need to gather a lot of cardboard (or newspaper) and organic material to get started. My advice is to take some time visiting different local shops and ask for their non-glossy (only brown) cardboard boxes. Remove the staples and tape and then set them aside at home. Same for organic material. Ask your neighbours – or your friends on Facebook – if you can have all their grass clippings and offer to rake up their leaves in the fall. Set all these materials aside over a month or two and you will be ready to set up your lasagna garden.
For the experienced gardener it can be a challenge to switch to this type of gardening. Letting Mother Nature do her thing and not intervene too much can be hard for many people that enjoy gardening. Not turning the soil…. if this makes your skin crawl, this way of gardening may not be for you. I was doubtful at first, but since this technique actually means less work for more output, I decided to give it a shot.
For the novice gardener it can be a challenge to identify vegetables in their plot with this method. This method emulates nature and the vegetables are growing wherever the seeds drop (the first year you will plant the heirloom seedlings and from then on they will reseed on their own). I suggest to people that are new to vegetable gardening that they make a list of the vegetables they plant in the spring. This way they can do an image search on Google if there is a type of vegetable they are not 100% what is.
So, in conclusion, lasagna gardening may not be for you if:
You are the Martha Stewart of gardening and have a perfect vegetable garden that you don’t want to risk messing with.
You can’t tell the difference between a thistle and a carrot – but I’m sure there’s an app for that 😉
Lasagna gardening may be for you if:
- You want to serve healthy organic food to your family
- Are sick about how the price of organic produce keeps increasing
- You want to depend less on commercial agriculture
- You are concerned about how produce is grown and question the quality of the vegetables available at the grocery store
Pat Lanza’s book on lasagna gardening is a great way to learn how to set up a no fuss garden. Click image to have a closer look on Amazon.
Patricia Lanza describes every detail of this no fuss technique in her book Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding! (Amazon link). Pat explains the method in such a way that anyone can easily start growing their own top quality food.
So, dare to be different! Take control of the quality of food you and your family eat.