What is Lasagna Gardening?
First of all, the recent trend of so-called Lasagna Gardening isn’t about growing vegetables specific to ingredients that are used in the culinary art of the best lasagna recipe. It’s actually a garden maintenance technique that is likened to the way a Lasagna casserole is put together…… in layers. I’ll get to the best vegetables to plant for use in your Lasagna recipe later.
It is sheet composting with a wide assortment of organic materials such as kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, manure, leaves, general compose, etc…….. even weeds!
It is a popular way to garden because it involves very little digging (if any at all), no removal of sod or existing weeds, and winds up resulting in rich, fluffy soil that will help your plants thrive. The step by step process is basically this:
- Mark out your planting area and lay down corrugated cardboard or at least 3 layers of newspaper directly on top of any existing weeds or sod as the first layer. You can also build raised bed garden structures if you prefer to begin your Lasagna Garden.
- Wet this part down to help the decomposition process begin which will help smother and break down the weeds or sod. This darkened moist layer will also attract earthworms that will tunnel through it creating needed pockets of oxygen.
- After this 1st foundation layer is established, you can subsequently begin adding the other layers of compost over time until you have raised it to about 2 feet high.
The types of compost you can add are limited only to your imagination, but keep it organic and avoid dairy products as well as anything you think might contain toxic materials. Some items to consider:
Spent flower blooms
Weeds that haven’t gone to seed
Fruit and vegetable scraps
Try to avoid kitchen scraps that might attract rodents and other critters
Consider that it will probably take about a years time to “cook down” the organic compost to a fluffy rich soil structure that your plants will best thrive in.
Now as far as my own description of what Lasagna Gardening can also be, I refer to my own personal Kitchen Gardening philosophy that focuses on planting vegetable types that suit my own cooking requirements. One of my recipes is an Italian Lasagna dish that’s to die for, and I insist on using only “fresh” ingredients picked from my own garden. This insures that they are organic and toxin-free as well as fresh. Obviously I have to rely on the market for any meats, noodles , and cheese
But I can make the marinara sauce using my veggies with the assistance of a bottle of red wine, salt, and virgin olive oil ( for those of you with olive trees and lots of time on your hands…… you can make this yourself as well).
Here is a list of my own vegetable choices to plant and use in my Lasagna cooking.
The best tomatoes for a lasagna garden are Roma style tomatoes. These are the large plum shaped tomatoes. They have less meat and more liquid than a standard beefsteak type tomato. This makes it the best choice for tomatoes that will be used to make the marinara sauce.
Bell peppers come in a few different varieties but I keep it simple as they aren’t the easiest vegetable to grow. I prefer the yellow, orange, and red versions but any color you like will work just fine. These colors can add an interesting look to your classic lasagna dish.
Onions are a must in my lasagna dish. There are many varieties of onion to choose from. The main difference is the level of sweetness and the color. You can buy onion seeds if you have time on your hands, but I prefer to pick up bags of onion bulbs as the seeds will need to be planted indoors 8-10 weeks before your last frost date, and may take as long as 5 months to form bulbs.
Eggplant is used in place of meat in many vegetable lasagnas. Eggplants can be white or purple, large or small. The flavor for each type of eggplant is fairly consistent.
Zucchini or Yellow Squash
Squash is used in some vegetable lasagnas to replace meat, or add to it. You can experiment with different types of summer squash to get the flavor you prefer.
There are many types of herbs you can use in lasagna. Some of the herbs that are commonly used include:
However, you can add any herb that you want to your recipe.
Lasagna gardening can give you fresh food throughout the growing season. Consider learning how to can or freeze your vegetables, and you can have food from your garden through the winter months. For a few hours a week in the garden, you can provide healthy, nutritious natural food for yourself and your family.