Sounds pretty good right? Plant lots of tomatoes, eggplant, maybe some spinach…. But cheese doesn’t grow!  And where does the pasta come from? Well lasagna gardening is not in fact about growing the ingredients for a tasty lasagna, but rather, a nontraditional organic gardening method that relies on a layering method called sheet composting.
     One of the greatest benefits of the lasagna gardening method is that it does not require any digging or tilling. This makes it an ideal practice for beginning gardeners, elderly gardeners, or those who simply do not have access to equipment to break ground and work the soil. Lasagna gardening can also be a relatively low cost method of gardening, using recycled and found materials.
     So how does this lasagna gardening thing work? you ask, well I will do my best to give you a rundown of the basics of Lasagna Gardening.
     Though it may not seem like it is already that time of year, fall is just around the corner and soon it will be time to start putting your garden to bed and preparing for the winter. Fall however is also a great time to get started with new garden plots for the next season because there is a bounty of organic material available and the winter months will allow ample time for your organic material to break down and leave you with a ready to plant plot by the time spring arrives.
Two garden plots ready to decompose through the winter

Step 1: Choose your garden area and put down a layer of cardboard over the entire area, make sure to overlap the cardboard so that no weeds or grass can creep through the cracks. Then thoroughly wet down the cardboard so that it will stay in place. You do not need to till/dig up the garden space at all because the cardboard will kill all grass and weeds and slowly break down the dense top layer of soil.

Step 2: Put down your first “lasagna” layer on top of the cardboard. This layer should be 2-3 inches thick and made up of water absorbent material such as dead leaves, straw, peat moss etc.

Step 3: Add a second layer made up of greener material, such as grass clippings, veggie scraps, garden trimmings, etc.

Step 4: continue to add layers alternating between green and brown until your garden spot is covered with layers that are about 2 feet in height. Layers can be made up of just about any organic material such as leaves, grass clippings, manure, compost, coffee grounds, shredded paper, pine needles, etc. Just make sure that you are not adding any diseased garden plants to your piles or you will have future problems. You can also add necessary soil amendments such as lime and wood ash to the layers to get a head start on a healthy garden.

Layers of a lasagna garden
Step 5: leave it all to decompose over the winter months. By the time you are ready to plant in the spring the layers will have reduced in height to just several inches of loose rich soil.

Step 6: Planting! When you are ready to plant simply dig down as deep as necessary in the soil and plant to your heart’s desire.

Step 7: Once you have planted it is very helpful to apply a layer of mulch to the entire garden. This will keep weeds to a minimum and help the soil retain water. Mulch can be made from straw, grass clippings, leaves, shredded paper, etc.

Benefits of Lasagna Gardening/Sheet Composting
• No tilling, digging, or large equipment necessary
•Few weeds will grow if you properly mulch
•Low cost
• Nutrient rich soil

Patricia Lanza is the gardener who conceived of the lasagna gardening system as I have described, here is her first book on the topic and an article written by her that you can access online:

Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens, No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!  By Patricia Lanza