I am a lazy gardener. There. I said it. I hate tilling, hoeing, weeding, and watering. I'd much rather plant seeds and plants, propagate, harvest, and sit on a bench in the sun admiring the results of my not-so-hard labor. Yet the clay forms an impenetrable slab, the weeds grow, and the summer sun dries my poor plants out every day. What's a lazy gardener to do?
Well, a couple of years ago I picked up a book by Ruth Stout called How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back. It's a wonderful book, in which the author describes how she was able to have a huge garden with minimal work by sheet mulching or sheet composting, piling organic matter around her plants rather than digging in finished organic ingredients. That year I snatched up bags of leaves and other yard debris from unsuspecting neighbors and layered it over a part of my vegetable garden in the fall. Come spring, I didn't have to weed or till! Not bad.
Earlier this year, I found a newer book that describes similar techniques in lots more detail: Lasagna Gardening, by Patricia Lanza. It's a great book for beginning gardeners. Lanza spends about a chapter describing lasagna gardening in loving detail, but then she spends the rest of the book actually telling you how to grow stuff. She covers edibles -- vegetables, herbs, and berries -- and flowers, with lots of practical tips and helpful drawings. A few years later she published Lasagna Gardening for Small Spaces, which is even better because of the wonderful recipes she includes.
I have become a lasagna gardening convert. I've layered newspaper and leaves on my tomato patch and front yard flower garden, and I'm planning to make more garden lasagna as soon as the weather warms up a bit this year. I have better soil and fewer weeds -- even the horsetail struggled to come up last year through my 8" layers of mulch.
To purchase any of the books mentioned in this post, just click a link below:
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