Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Making Lasagna

At the end of our Natural Science block we decided to make lasagna. Actually, we've been planning this for some time but last week the weather and timing came together. Lasagna time!

In the cool autumn chill of mid-October the kids and I took ourselves out-of-doors and began work on our lasagna garden. No, not a garden where we grow the fixings for the cheesy pasta dish of the same name. In this case Lasagna refers to the layering technique for building soil.

We first heard of this method when we stopped to chat with Rhea, a lovely older woman who lives, and gardens, near one of our downtown parks. Rhea's lawn has no grass. It is completely planted with every imaginable native plant. We admired her lawn and stopped to tell her so. She recommended that we try it using the Lasagna method to kill our sod and begin planting. I did a little research and found The Lasagna Garden by Patricia Lanza.

In a nutshell: mark off a space, build layers of organic material, plant. In our case we're opting to build our garden space in the fall and then plant in the spring. But the layering is the same.


First, we marked our space. Then we added the first layer: wet newspaper.

Then the second layer: peat moss. Then the third layer: straw.

Then the fourth layer: leaves.

That's all we've done for now. Our plan is to add at least 8 more layers before it snows. The entire process took a couple of hours. The most suprising thing is how much we all enjoyed the endeavor. I am not a gardner. Despite growing up and spending most of my life in a farming state I do not garden, never have. And my eldest - she hates to get dirty. This is the child who as a baby rarely needed a bib, who at three finished painting in pre-school with a completely clean smock, who at six took a bucket of soapy water and scrub brush to the new tire swing before she would use it. We're talking neat and tidy.

Once I persuaded her to wear the old sweat pants ("They are comfy," she admitted) and told her that finally I was willing to try a garden ("I've been wanting flowers for years, Mommy.") she was game. She had a great time. During our peat mossing she kicked off her shoes and rolled in the dirt shouting: "I want to stay here like a pig forever!" During the whole session she kept exclaiming about how much fun it was. She even enjoyed raking the yard (a bonus chore off the to-do list).

I enjoyed it too - the work, the outdoors seeing my two kids so happy (Bearcub drank the newspaper water, poured peat moss in her hair, rolled in the hay and threw leaves.) And I'm so glad to have given Nightowl the opportunity to get down in the muck and love it. We're already looking forward to adding more layers! And who knows, perhaps in the spring we'll have a bed ready for planting. Here's hoping.


Anonymous said...

This is indeed a *fabulous* way to expand your planting areas. I have applied the method myself as I continue with my insidious Grass Reduction Plan. It works like this: find bare spot in the lawn --> start the layering process... Before the unsuspecting neighbors know what's going on, there are flowers and herbs planted there... And yes, kids are great helpers for this project. :-)

Lesblogs said...

oh my goodness. You're gardening?! I am stunned.

Sara said...

Wow, that looks like so much fun. And it sounds as if the kids had a blast. Yay for Nightowl embracing the dirt!