The Q&A Archives: Lasagne Gardening

Question: A while ago I saw in a magazine article about lasagne gardening for potatoes. Unfortunately I can not find that article again and was wondering if you could give me any hints.
I can remember that first they put lots of newspaper on a piece of lawn and then used a lot of straw or old hay to cover or plant the potatoes in it. How do I do this exactly?

Answer: There is a whole book on the topic, called Lasagne Gardening, by Patricia Lanza (ISBN# 0-87596-962-3). The technique involves layering organic materials that decompose and elimiate the need to till soil. Start with thick layers of wet newspaper or corrugated cardboard over the grass. Overlap the layers to prevent grass from growing in cracks. Then add 2-3" layer of peat moss, then a 4-8" layer of organic mulch material (shredded leaves, old hay, grass clippings, sawdust, weeds, compost, farmyard manure, etc.), another layer of peat moss, another of mulch material, and continue til the bed is 18-24" tall. Sprinkle layers with bone meal, kelp meal, or other amendments to add nutrients. I'd also make sure ingredients are slightly moist so they don't wick moisture away from each other and create dry pockets.

The author states that her original potato planting was on one of her relatively new beds. She just put down the newspaper layer, spaced the tubers, and covered them with hay. As they grew, she put more hay around them. The tubers were smaller than soil-grown crops, she reports, but they were clean! I imagine that if you cover the tubers with compost and then "hill" them with hay, they'll do better. Enjoy!

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