Today I put down sheet mulch or lasagna mulch in the bed back by our garage.  This bed was growing puny little wimpo plants and I decided it was time for an intervention.  The plants worth saving were transplanted to other beds.

I first learned about lasanga mulch in my current favorite gardening book, The Urban Homestead. Since then, I ran across it in several other books and started doing some research.  I finally settled on the method described by the apparent coiner of the term lasagna mulch, Patricia Lanza, in her Lasagna Gardening for Small Spaces. Unfortunately, before doing all this research, we had already put down like a foot of mulch on the bed since we got a truckload from Rainbow Tree Care (For free!  Goody!).  So in order to do Patricia’s method, I had to take off most of what we’d put down.  No worries, it was put back on later.

So essentially in lasagna mulching you make a layered compost pile.  You layer green and brown materials and the effect is a rich gardening medium when the whole thing breaks down.  We had to obtain green materials, which I did through posting an ad on Craigslist and the Twin Cities Free Market.

After taking up the mulch, I laid thick wet newspaper to act as a weed barrier.

Newspaper layer of sheet mulch

Newspaper layer of sheet mulch

Next, I raided our not-quite-finished compost and laid a layer of it out.  I am somewhat nervous about having included all the kitchen scraps for animal reasons, but decided to take the chance.  It’s pretty deeply buried (though maybe I wouldn’t say that if I were a squirrel).

Compost layer

Compost layer

Third, I put down a layer of woodchips (the ones that had come up before).

First mulch layer

First mulch layer

Next came a layer of the wonderful weeds obtained through the online ads.

1st Weed Layer

1st Weed Layer

Repeated the mulch layer and weed layer again, then topped with a final thick layer of mulch.  I did the same on the other side, except used cardboard for the weed barrier since there was no more newspaper left.  So the final product looks like this:

Final Lasagna Mulched Bed

Final Lasagna Mulched Bed

We are going to just leave this bed alone for the rest of this year, although I am thinking about and learning about what role cover cropping may have to play in this scenario (not convinced it has any, yet . . . ).  The hope is that next spring, especially if we top off with leaf litter this fall, we will have far richer soil than what we had to work with this year.  Fingers crossed!!

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