What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pasta Anyone? Otherwise Entitled: The Making of a Lasagna Garden. Part 1

Otherwise entitled: Longest Title for Blog Post in the World
Memorial Day means lots of things for lots of people. I can practically smell the charcoal burning away and taste the lemonade after a sweaty volleyball game. It's true, Memorial Day is a great day for picnics but from where we are from, it means something more too.

Memorial Day is THE weekend to get your garden in. You start your indoor seeds on St. Patties and you dig in the dirt on Memorial Day. Sounds fun, don't you think?

Well.....compared to volleyball and swimming pools? Not really.

BUT~ it gives something more than fun. It gives accomplishment---and lots of goodies to be enjoyed for the rest of the year. So, I guess the fun factor gets trumped for today.

Let's talk gardening, shall we?!?!

I love gardening but I am a major novice. Self taught up to this point through reading and experimentation, I know nothing at all. Never the less, I am documenting here the gardening process we are going through so that I can look back and tweak it later. Learn from it. and REMEMBER it all.

In the six years we've been married I have had four gardens all of which were about 6x8 or so. Not too big, but considering I didn't know the first thing about anything, it was a good way to start. My first year married, that teeny tiny garden allowed me to dunk my pinky toe in the waters of growing things and eventually forced me to teach myself how to can as well. So, little though they were, they had big results in my life. It's been downhill ever since.

THIS years garden is far surpassing in size and scope any previous garden I had ever planned and this year is a good one for firsts.

I have self-started many of the seeds indoors. (a first)

I have SEVEN beds with which I am working. HUGE, for me. (A BIG first)

I am growing more than tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and jalapenos. (Another first)

I have plans for adding height to my garden, crop rotation, companion-planting, AND heirloom seed saving. (ALL new to me)

Finally, I am doing it all, the LASAGNA way. (never done before)

Ever heard of Lasagna Gardening?

I started reading up on the garden scene this winter, when I was pining away for something green and living to come into my life. I soaked up so much information from all the books that soon, I was leaking it all back out through my nostrils. Totally saturated was I in the newness and wonder of it all. Gardening is pretty cool, if you ask me. Even though I know I have about 20 more years to actually LEARN and REMEMBER everything I had just read.

Lasagna gardening is NOT making a garden full of tomatoes, basil, onions, etc. (When I first heard of it, that is what I thought!) Rather, it is a process of making a raised garden bed by using layers of organic material and planting in that just as you lasagna is created by making layers.

This method is awesome for people who don't own tillers (me, myself and I), are planting on top of creek stones (yup, that's me too) and for people who despise weeding (hand raised here). It's also awesome for the ever-important skill of use-whatcha-got.

Why the no-till method? Actually, tilling rotates the soil and unearths the weed seeds hiding out under the soil and gives them the light they need to grow. Eek. That's not cool. I guess not having a tiller is not so bad after all.

Why doesn't it matter where the garden is? Because it is essentially making a garden from the ground UP not from the grass down. Lasagna works well even in container gardening, if you use the same principles.

Why the weeding bit? The very first layer used for your garden is cardboard (or newspapers), which essentially buries weeds with no hope of survival. Yipppeee! The cardboard/newspaper then breaks down and enriches the soil, making a better quality soil to work with and eliminating back breaking weeding. (That's the plan)

Use-whatcha-got, eh? Yup. Lasagna gardening is a great way to use what you have around. You can make a layer of your garden out of all your summers grass clippings. A wonderful layer to enrich the soil is fallen leaves in Autumn. It even puts to good use your old newspapers! Composting garden scraps, too, is using what you already have to work with you.

I think USE-WHATCHA-GOT syndrome is a sickness that needs to be spread around a bit.

Here are some of the resources I ODed on this winter. You may find them helpful, as well. After all. It ISN'T too late to garden and it is NEVER too late to learn!

Everything that has been spoken up until this point has been promised in written format, but I don't have experience with the success yet, since REMEMBER, this is my first time ever Lasagna gardening. At the end of the season, we shall see if this method is as fool proof and amazing as it seems....

Now, on to the photos.

The very first thing to do (DUH!) is select a spot. Make sure it's sunny and relatively flat, but that's about all you need.

I chose the only sunny/relatively flat piece of ground that was close enough to be watered without hiking millions of miles with heavy water buckets sploshing their excess on your legs every morning and night. It isn't a pleasant feeling, having soggy sneakers. Ask me how I know.

THIS spot is idyllic. A perfect view from our patio, sandwiched between the apple tree and the creek. Oh yes, beautiful beautiful. Never mind that under all the three years worth of neglected, overgrown weeds there is only river rock. With LASAGNA gardening, that is not supposed to be a problem!

Here the boys are measuring out the length of garden. (Who ever said a three year old is too small to help out?!?) Lasagna gardening is not the cheapest form of gardening ever (after all, in order to have layers you have to have supplies!) but I am ever thankful for the great abundance of provisions we have right here at our disposal. This property was a DUMP (and still is, in parts) that we have had the irritation to have to clean up. and YET. I can't tell you how much JUNK we have picked up and used, saving us LOTS of moola. One man's junk is another mans treasure.

Prime Example: Broken down corn crib buried under weeds = absolutely free, sturdy garden fencing! Not to mention, the split rails (which were piled up under a bunch of sheet metal) to put the fencing up! Anyone who has ever gone to price fencing knows that this "junk" alone has saved us hundreds (that we didn't have anyway). Praise God.

Since this is our first year here, and since this property was abandoned for a few years prior to us moving in~ the whole property was left to go wild. And it did, and did well. Those lucky few who are starting a nice garden on a nice lawn wouldn't have this problem, but in order for our cardboard to lay flat, we had some serious weeding to do.

A brush hog would have been JUST the ticket for that project. Only thing is~ we don't have one of those either. (BTW, the skidsteer was a kind loan for the day) Matt, being the strong, hard worker that he is~ did it the old fashioned way.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed the view.

I just love to see Matt's bulging arm veins and swollen forearms. Oh yes, it's one of my favorite things to do.

But seriously, how can a man have arms that tan already? I mean, sheesh. I won't get near that tan by the end of summer and one good Saturday does that to HIM? SO unfair.

Next stop: The LAYERS
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