Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lasagna Gardening

NO a lasagna garden does not grow lasagna. Read below to see how an innovative sustainable no dig method can create a garden out of an abandoned lot in Brookline, Mass. My sister, Joan Hardy volunteers with this group. The food from their gardens goes to the Food Bank to feed the needy.
Also see five pictures of the garden being built below.
And by the way if you are in Boston my sister Joan is an incredible massage therapist.

Saturday's update: We are working with approximately 700 sq. feet, and we really transformed the space in the span of about 6 hours. We started by digging up some perennials for transplant and clearing all of the dead vegetation and brush out, including some very stubborn blackberry brambles. This stuff could normally be trampled down to form the first layer of the sheet mulch, or lasagna garden, but we removed it to minimize the chance that the choking morning glories and the crafty brambles will invade our new beds.
Our final garden plan did not emerge until we saw the open space, and it became established with the help of a garden hose, some stakes, and plenty of imagination. We decided to form rough quadrants using a cross of wide, wheelbarrow accessible paths, an appealing curved front and left edge (a fence runs along the back edge, a shed borders the right edge), and several 3-4ft wide beds, with narrower paths between, making up each quadrant. The final result will be 9 or 10 beds around 12-15 ft in length, and 1 or 2 shorter beds…aka lots of growing space! The attached pictures should give those who have not yet visited a better sense of the layout.
As the afternoon loped along, the lasagna preparations finally began! With limitations of materials and labor, we focused on 4 of the beds. A healthy layer of horse manure, partly composted with saw dust and grass, formed the first layer. A thatch of ornamental grass clippings and then a layer of leafy litter/compost (from the BCF) followed. We also watered between each layer. Then came the sheet layer, of around 10 sheets of newspaper and1 layer of cardboard, which we watered well to create a good seal (papier-mache-like). The top layer is some kind of mulch—unfortunately we only had enough wood chips (you can also use straw or leaves) for 1 bed, but we will be back as soon as we can find some more. In the mean time we will let Mother Nature, and all of her wonderful little organisms, get to work cooking up these lasagna beds into some (hopefully!) beautiful soil.
So that’s the news from Bountiful Brookline. A couple of things to think about: any ideas for the new garden site's name? Email JD ( with any creative suggestions (We can continue to call it 11 Goodwin Place for the time being). Also keep your eyes and ears peeled for more materials—we still need to prepare the other half of the garden! Our wish list includes non-glossy newspaper and cardboard (without tape) and mulching materials, like wood chips, straw, leaves, grass clippings, or compost. Please email JD with any potential sources. Thanks!

J.D. Hutchison-Maxwell

Garden Intern
Bountiful Brookline

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