Paul Eckman's Experiment: 'Lasagna Gardening'

Listed below is my receipt for lasagna which has been cooking since last September.

I suppose you could add peat moss and animal manures to the layers, but I'm cheap. I have already spent a small fortune on exotic seeds.

Start in the Fall

I started preparing this dish last fall with mulched leaves, dried flowers, corn stalks, sawdust, and small clippings from shrubs. What attracted me to the concept of "lasagna gardening" was water conservation and soil management. The layers are supposed to retain water and slow the evaporation process. The mixture of vegetable and leaf matter creates a friendly environment for worms which add more nutrients and air to the soil.

No Tilling or Digging

This is the first year I didn't dig up or turn over the soil in the spring. I always used my plot at Crows Woods to recycle mulched leaves and other yard waste. When I discovered the new receipt, it was simply a matter of adding a few more ingredients and waiting for the mixture to start cooking. This year is experimental because I will probably have to add or subtract some of the ingredients based on the results of the first crops grown under these conditions. Not all plants like a full shot of nitrogen. I have added wood ashes to all the layers, but will probably have to supplement the whole mess with some lime to offset all that green stuff I collected this year.

Composting and Mulching

The concept of lasagna gardening is not new; I think it represents an extension of the composting and mulching we have been doing for many years in our gardens at Crows Woods. In any event, I think it represents a new paradigm for gardening with no tilling, weeding or digging. We will see if the advocates are kidding!

The paradigm is outlined in Lasagna Gardening written by Patricia Lanza, (Rodale Press, 1998).

Paul Eckman, Plot # 29