A lasagna day!

I had another day off my ‘day job’ of stay at home mum today! My mother in law kindly agreed to collect my children from school so that I could go and help Jo with the initial work needed to be done on her vegetable patch. C and J, at the farm, have a small vegetable garden of their own but don’t have the time to work the rest of the land and so have given Jo the opportunity to produce some home-grown fruit and veggies. For the winter, she plans to just prepare the land and then start properly in spring. My mother suggested that she have a look at the lasagna gardening method, as a less labour intensive way of preparing the ground, and so, as an experiment, she’s giving it a go.

She has been accumulating a lot of cardboard from her local greengrocer, who is kindly providing all his surplus fruit and vegetables for her to feed to the pigs. So, today, the main job was to lay out the cardboard over the area of garden which she plans to use. C and J marked out a large circular vegetable garden, but only ended up with enough free time to utilise a quarter segment of it. Jo hopes to be able to work all three spare segments eventually, but today we laid out the cardboard over one quarter segment.

After this, Jo had the unenviable job (bless her) of emptying the compost bin out and carting all of the partially rotten contents up to cover the cardboard. Unfortunately we had over-estimated how much ‘compost’ we had, and so ended up only covering half of the cardboard. However, we reckon that she should have accumulated enough compostable material by the end of November to completely cover the cardboard – sooner, if more people contribute their vegetable and fruit waste! Anyway, moving on…! I spent an hour or so raking up some of the grass that had been mown at the weekend to make the next layer of the ‘lasagna’, over the top of the rotting fruit and veg. Then we covered the whole lot with more of the cardboard and that with a tarpaulin to try to prevent wildlife from destroying our carefully (!) layered heap.

I am definitely unused to physical labour, and had to take lots more breaks than Jo whilst I was doing the raking. I am also quite sure that I didn’t get as much done as she did, but I just kept telling myself that, even if I was slow, at least I was saving her the time and effort that she would have had to expand to get the grass on the compost heap. Anyway, she now has to keep building up the lasagna patch as and when she gets more compostable materials, and then in the spring we can see what has become of it all! At the very least, worms will have worked a fair bit of it into the ground beneath and the grass will have been smothered, making the digging of the bed a fair bit easier for us. At best, a nice thick layer of compost will have been produced, facilitating ease of planting all the lovely veggie crops! Now we just need to ask all the male visitors to the farm (and the female ones who have no inhibitions!) to pee on the lasagna patch in order to ‘jump start’ the compost into getting going more quickly!

By the way, I’ve included the pictures of the dogs to show you their varying attitudes to the amount of moving about and gardening we were doing. Fab (the black dog) stayed alert and awake the whole time, following me like a little shadow. Snipe and Midge, on the other hand, were much more laid back and took every opportunity to do a little sunbathing in the unseasonably warm weather we experienced this afternoon. Don’t they look relaxed?!? I was sooooo envious, watching them reclining like that while I was struggling with my stamina for the raking!

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8 Responses

  1. Good work…a horizontal compost heap will take a bit longer to get working than a deep vertical one, but it WILL work and by next March should have produced a clear patch of soil and some compost, at least!

    It IS an easier way to make beds, that is for sure…and I am all for ANY easier method..Life is TOO short to do things the hard way if it can be done an easier way!

  2. Glad to hear it!

    Out of curiosity, when would be the latest date that we could create a lasagne garden for it to be ready by the spring?

  3. Compostwoman – thanks for the supportive comment! And also, are you able to answer Jo’s question? Because Jo, I’ve not got a scooby-doo about how long anything takes to break down into compost. I think you’ll need to chop up at least the harder things like the pineapples and onions, to make it easier for them to break down. Any idea what the weather’s going to be like next week? Hubby’s off work all week!

  4. Oh, I’ve just realised, Jo, you were probably already asking Compostwoman that question rather than me. Sorry! (sidles off, looking a bit embarrassed at being so slow!!)

  5. Yay for a productive day! I really want to do this myself. We loved growing veggies last year, and I want to expand for 2009!

  6. Mmm hmm

    You’re forgiven!

    Weather meant to be nice Monday, no idea about the rest of the week. You planning on chopping up some pineapples?! πŸ˜€

  7. Ah…that question was for me.. ( looks at feet……….embarrased …..)

    If you set it up NOW it would probably be ok by March 2009..to plant into? but not things like carots , parsnips etc as they fork in fresh compost….
    but would be good for spuds, beans, courgettes, pumpkins, salads etc….any thing hungry….

    I need to do some posts on how to use compost on my blog I think! ..not just how to make it.

    (but I LIKE making compost whispers cw’s little voice in her head……)

    NO! bad compost voice! we WILL tell folk what to do with it!

    Sorry.. its late and I have had a glass or several of wine…………..

  8. LOL!

    Thanks for the tips – we will certainly bear it in mind. I think at this point Jo will have enough of a ‘lasagna garden’ for the potatoes, beans etc, but will need to dig over a bed for the carrots, parsnips, and then another for any fruit she’s thinking of planting.

    However, it’s an experiment in the making! So far I don’t think it has cost her anything, and we’re learning all the time! Got to be a good thing!

    Oh, and you write as many posts about making compost as you’d like! It’s your blog, and you write what makes you happy! Just answer the questions that we find to put to you and we’ll all be happy πŸ™‚

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