Wednesday, June 9, 2010

#5 Lasagne gardening


Because our top soil is very shallow and what lies beneath it is clay and shale, tilling a garden has always been a challenge.  We've added things like peat moss and compost to it in an effort to loosen things up a bit but we still fight with poor soil quality.
Plus, I'm ashamed to say it, the weeds get the best of me EVERY year.  I get off to a good start but after a soaking rain it seems that the weeds grow 3 times as fast as my garden plants!
So, this year we've taken another approach.  Lasagne gardening.  We started out with a layer of cardboard to discourage grass and weeds from growing up through the beds.  Two years ago, in preparation for this process, we started stockpiling leaves that the township picked up along the road.  They use a large truck that sucks the leaves into a shredder before shooting them into the back of a dump truck for removal.  The only problem with this is that we are unsure if the trees these leaves came from have been subjected to chemical lawn treatments. Hopefully the composting process will remove some of that problem. What we are left with is lovely composted leaf mould that has decomposed into nutritious, loamy, dirt.  We piled this dirt about 6-8 inches thick on top of the cardboard.  Next, we added a layer of straw, and then grass clippings.  I have chicken litter that I'll add later. 
Here in PA, we have to be cautious of the late May frosts so we'll be planting this week.  I'll keep you posted.

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