I’m no expert, but I’m not a dummy, either. The concept is grasped, it’s just the implementation that’s difficult. The idea of Fall soil preparation is not new to me, it’s just that I lose steam when everything freezes. It’s always been a little depressing to go out and wade through all the dead and dying leaves. Gardening, it seems, should be done with the warm sunshine at your back, on one of the first jacket-free days, not in wet, half-frozen mud. I prefer to wait until Spring to renew my faith and hope for a better garden. But I know. I know what I need to do in order to improve. I’m always hoping to become a better gardener some-year. Maybe it’s this one.
I got a late start last Spring, and I stumbled upon the lasagna gardening method too late to really do a good job of it. I spread straw–since that’s what I had available–instead of newspapers and leaves or grass clippings. Turns out the straw took root and thrived better than anything planted intentionally. I harvested eleven potatoes. That’s right. To break it down for you more precisely, that would be seven large reds and four small ones. Only one of my squash plants came up, and I wasn’t sure whether it was zucchini or yellow squash until I got one. Yellow. Who knew? It’s some kind of dubious honor that I can’t even grow zucchini, now, don’t you think? I got a few cucumbers, and the tomatoes were large, juicy, and plentiful, but came on so late that I was just getting used to having a regular supply of them when Jack Frost found them. That was the extent of it–a flash in the pan. But I’m not about to give up yet.
(This picture was taken before the last layer of leaves finished covering all the newspaper.)
I’m committed to doing it right next year, and to prove it, I’ve started collecting ingredients early. The first (weed prevention) layer includes a towering stack of newspapers about four feet high and a half dozen or so large flattened cardboard boxes. I will be surprised if a single weed dares poke its ugly head above this armor! Next, the enrichment layer is made up of the remains from all the tomato, cucumber, potato, and squash plants (not to mention loads of straw) all left to decompose under more layers of newspapers and leaves–approximately eight bags full of leaves from my yard and another seven or eight I got from neighbors. A half bushel of bruised and wormy apples, our dilapidated Halloween pumpkins, and a number of other organics were thrown in for extra nourishment.
Until the rain started making it sag, this was piled up to my knees. The precipitation we’re expecting the rest of the week is just going to get the chemical decomposition process jump-started for the winter. Once it gets really soaked, I plan to cover it with a black layer and let it “cook” all winter. Looking forward to next Spring and planting time!