Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lasagna Garden

It is a glorious 70 degrees outside this week. After last weeks huge rain storm (3 days of rain in Colorado, what's THAT about?!), I can almost watch all the tumble weed plants growing in my backyard. Now, they're not too bad looking, green and leafy with tiny purple flowers, but they certainly don't compare to a normal lawn, or the lush oasis at my Grandparent's house. They get so tall that I could loose children in them, and when you mow them down, they become hard spiky stumps. We also have the devious goat head vines. They LOVE our sandy soil. They are the only thing that I have ever seen actually growing in the soft dunes out in the field. They, too, are quite attractive in order to disguise their horrible nature. They are a creeping vine that covers the sand in a layer of tiny leaves, and pretty little yellow flowers. The true horror doesn't come for a few months when the flowers die back and the green seed pods start to form. Goat Heads (or sand burrs) are the bane of my country existence. Can you picture caltrops? They were a military weapon designed to stop cavalry. They are a small metal object with sharp points on all sides so that no matter how they fall to the ground there is always at least one of those sharp spikes sticking up. They were used to lame horses, and more recently to puncture the tires of cars. The goat heads that cover my yard are exactly like that, except they are about the size of a pea (so they are almost invisible as you walk around the house) and are organic. They stick to the soles of all shoes and to the tires of our cars. They are proportedly impossible to get rid of in the yard.

My plan is to choke them out.

Someday, I will fill my 1/4 acre backyard with other plants, or bricks, or something, so that there isn't any room for them to thrive. Someday...

That day is not today. Today I am building a new garden. In a corner of my yard about the size of my bedroom, I am building a garden. I have no intention of filling the whole thing just yet. I'll work up to that, but this small zone will be full of plants of my choosing. Vegitables, flowers, and fruit vines. Lush and lovely, and totally non-goat head. It is turning out to be MUCH larger and more time consuming than I had originally thought, though. At least I don't have to dig.

For the last several months, I have been collecting materials, 2 trash cans full of old news papers, 6 cans full of old moldy hay from the barn, 4 gigantic bales of peat moss, and a few bags of garden soil. I am bulding a Lasagna garden. The goal is to build up your garden like raised beds (except I don't have any retaining walls) in a kind of strip composting pattern. You cover the ground (weeds, sod and all) with thick pads of wet newspaper. On top of that you lay a thin layer of peat moss. Then you just begin building layers of anything that you would put in a compost pile, chopped leaves, grass clippings, manure, straw, etc. In between each layer of material, you lay another thin layer of peat moss. Top the whole thing off with a layer of mulch (I'm using hay). The newspaper keeps the weeds out, the layers feed the plants, and the mulch at the top helps keep all the moisture in the soil. Sounds fantastic in theory. We'll see how it works out since I can't seem to keep any plants alive for long...

This morning I finished up the newspapers, layed a layer of peat moss and a layer of manure. Next more peat moss, then hay. Looking at how quickly my gigantic piles of materials have diminished, I'm going to need to take another trip to the store for peat moss, and a few dozzen more trips to the feild for more manure...

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