Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More on Sheet Composting

Every morning, I take the newspaper out to the garden with me. Not to read, but to use as my weed control. I use the edition from the day before and remove any pages with colored ink.

When I first planted my garden, I put 3 to 5 layers of newspaper down and then had a decision to make. What should I put over the newspaper? Dirt, straw, or how about my neighbor's grass clippings? I decided to just let it be for now. The newspaper decomposes quite rapidly so it gives me the opportunity to just add more paper here and there each day.

In the book Lasagna Gardening, Patricia Lanza also uses newspaper as her first layer when she builds a gardening bed. No removing topsoil for her. She has a preferred method she has developed by adding specific layers and building to a height of 18-24 inches. Patricia uses quite a bit of peat moss and I feel that could get expensive. I don't believe I have ever used peat moss. I prefer to use what is available to me and use the basic composting formula of 3 parts carbon (dried leaves, straw, etc.) to 1 part nitrogen (vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc.).

Whether you call it lasagna gardening or sheet composting, it is just a way to create a no-till garden. It is a method of adding organic material to the soil in multiple layers. I plan to do that.

This fall, will be a good time to prep my raised beds with a layering method so over the winter months a beautiful soil will develop just in time for spring planting.

Which do you prefer...to till or not to till?

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