What is No-Dig or Lasagna Gardening?
As the name implies, no-dig gardening is all about building above ground, rather than digging down. The no-dig gardening concept was popularized by Sydney gardener Esther Dean in the 1970s as a way of minimizing gardening effort while kick-starting a garden with maximum fertility.
Although it can be known by several names, no-dig gardens are definitely NOT no-work gardens. There is less work in setting up a no-dig garden. Still, it’s important to remember that all gardens, particularly edible ones, require on-going maintenance, monitoring and action. A no-dig garden consists of layers of organic material that are stacked up to form a nutrient and organic-rich garden area.
Materials needed to make a No-Dig or Lasagna Garden?
· Manure – e.g., horse, cow, sheep
· Rock minerals
· Spent coffee grounds
· brown organic material – e.g., Sugar cane mulch straw, leaves or dry grass clipping
How to build your ‘lasagna’ or No-Dig garden
1. Choose a sweet, sunny spot for your vegetable garden. Your Vegetables need at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day. Chose a place that is less exposed to the extremes – less wind and the heat of the afternoon sun
2. Mark out where the no-dig garden will be. It does make it easier if it has a frame to go inside like timber for a raised garden bed. The walls should be at least 20cm/30cm high, but higher is okay. You can use anything to build the foundations including old rocks or sleepers or bricks etc.
3. Line the base with at least 10 sheets thickness of newspaper or a single of cardboard (not waxed) to suppress the weeds, and make sure it is wet. Make sure each sheet overlaps, otherwise weeds will work their way upward. If the soil below has a substantial clay base, add a couple of handfuls per square metre of gypsum before laying the newspaper. This will help improve the drainage by enhancing the structure.
4. Then by stacking alternate layers of fine and coarse compostable materials. I start with a 10 cm layer of aged manure. Then a 10 cm layer of sugar cane mulch or straw and water in well, then a sprinkling of spent coffee grounds and rock minerals, then another layer of aged manure, and then another 10 cm of sugar cane mulch or straw and water in well again. Repeat the layers, finishing with a compost layer.
5. Planting is then done into the top compost layer. Dig a hole and plant the seedlings, watering in well.
6. Mulch well around your seedlings with sugar cane mulch or straw.
7. Due to the level of compostable, organic material (think a layer compost pile in your garden), you will notice that the level in your no-dig bed will drop over time. The idea is to repeat the process with new layers as you change your plants over each season.
You can also build a no-dig or lasagna garden in large containers and pots, simply do the same as described above.