Laura M reporting:
Laura Oliver of Let’s Grow Jericho Seed Library led us through a talk May 17 on Lasagna Gardening. Laura, a true local, grew up in Underhill with a family that gardened, raised animals and foraged. These days, she raises her own family on a two acre homestead on Nashville Road, pictured above.
Originally their land consisted of sandy, rocky soil filled with quack grass and weeds. Since embarking on lasagna gardening two years ago, they’ve turned things around; UVM soil testing showed nicely balanced soil that’s rich and fluffy, Laura said.
Lasagna gardening is a layering process for building vibrant, rich garden beds. Fall is the best time to prepare beds so that materials can break down, but spring works too.
Laura described the steps, starting with a ground layer of cardboard or newspaper layers that can be put directly on a lawn, if need be. Then cover with a couple inches of chips or straw, wetting it down.
After that, alternate layers of brown and green. The brown is carbon dominant things like newspaper, wood chips, grass clippings, straw, sawdust. Green is nitrogen dominant; materials like fresh grass clippings, weeds (before they go to seed), kitchen scraps. If it’s spring and you plan to plant directly in it, you need a layer of topsoil or compost before the final layer of mulch on top.
The final product may be up to two feet high, but it breaks down, forming a raised bed.
Why do it?
-Can make use of found materials or refuse from neighbors such as leaves or sawdust.
-Need less fertilizer, since you plant directly in compost.
-Supports soil mycelium, which Laura called the “neurological network of nature”
-Soil you create is easy to work; crumbly loose and loamy.
Laura recommended observing soil of the forest floor; pulling up those leaves to observe the white mycelium (can bring some of that rich leaf litter to your garden beds!)
She also recommended cover crops to prevent erosion and carbon oxidation in the veggie beds.
Laura gave an update on Let’s Grow Jericho, where they’re currently organizing a Tool Library, to lend out tools to the community. She said that the Seed Library itself is a great resource for free seeds. It’s also a great way for the community to access and save heirloom seeds. Laura also cited the Abenaki Land Link program, through which she and some neighbors are growing several heirloom, indigenous crops.
Link to meeting: