A Few Of My Favourite Things...
Yes, you can set up a lasagna garden in the winter or spring and have it ready for planting. Truthfully it will break down better if started in the fall but you may not know you want a garden. I have even known a few people that create the layered garden that day and plant it immediately.
When starting a lasagna garden late in the winter or spring you will use the same process as a fall garden. But I add a few “cheating methods” to help it break down faster.
For those of you new to lasagna gardening its a method where you lay down layers of natural materials on the ground that will decompose and blend to make a rich garden soil. The benefits are you can improve your soil by using material you have on hand or get cheaply. You can also garden in an area where the soil is horrible, such as a newly grated, rocky construction site.
Getting started in no dig gardening.
Lay down two layers of cardboard or eight layers of newspaper. Wet the newspaper to stop it from blowing away before you have the time to layer it with another garden layer. I have started to lay down two layers of cardboard and either shed newspaper or crinkle the paper and put on top. Worms love newspaper and will be drawn to it and this will help my new bed to break down faster. To further entice the worms I place manure next. This is my beginning base to the garden area.
The next step is to create layers of brown materials and then green materials. Brown materials would be leaves, paper, peat or pine. Green materials would be vegetable scraps, grass clippings, garden trimmings. Make your layers 4 to 8 inches deep. Often between the brown and green layers I add a thin layer, one or two inches, of compost or well rotter manure. This will help the layers to break down faster. Top the garden bed off with a layer of compost or top soil.
Do not use any contaminated materials, meat or grease. And believe it or not you can use human hair or dryer lint.
In the spring I cover a newly layered lasagna garden with black plastic to attract the sun and create heat to break the materials down. In two weeks you can get a good start on the new bed.
If you are starting to directly plant in a new bed, pull the layered mix aside and add a bucket of soil to the bed. Plant your transplant in the soil. If you are using seed, I make a row about 6 inches deep and 4 inches wide and add soil. Plant your seeds in the soil.
The advantage of the lasagna garden is it is a “no dig garden.” Such a garden is better for soil structure and great for those who do not have a rototiller or have soil that needs extra amendments to be considered proper garden soil.
This garden style also lends itself to square foot gardening or raised bed gardens.
This week I will be setting up a lasagna garden to use for photographing for a seminar I am presenting at Come Grow with Us. I hope that it will be ready for planting in a few weeks. It will be my future cutting garden.
Spring has arrived and it’s time to gather gardening ideas for the new planting season. One of the easiest ways to do this is attend one of the many garden workshops offered. There will be a local one day seminar called “Come Grow with Us” in Warren PA.
Come Grow with Us is a one day seminar held at the Allegheny Community Center on Clark Street in downtown Warren, PA. During the 7 hour event,12 speakers will share their tips and knowledge on garden related topics. A continental breakfast and lunch are also provided. The schedule is set up where you select four different seminars during the day. The keynote speaker, Denise Schreiber, will be presenting “Edible Flowers.” She is the Manager for Allegheny County Parks and author of “Eat Your Roses, Pansies, Lavender and 49 Other Delicious Flowers.
Other garden topics presented during the day will be:
Landscaping for the Birds
Home and Garden Insects
Gardening for Health
The Versatility of Herbs
Gardening for Community Health
By attending a gardening class you can add a look or fresh ideas to your garden plans and yards. Gardening is fun but a new challenge or creation each year makes heading out the door to work a top priority.
I have found that one of the biggest perks of a seminar is the conversation. You share experiences, tips and often seeds or plants with fellow gardeners. My last seminar I attended netted me several batches of red wigglers and a new project, worm farming. I also learned how to build a cheap, almost free, home for my new worms and how to build a free light box for seed starting.
So check the newspapers and online calendars for gardening seminars and classes close to your area.
My winter gardening in zone 5 consists of windowsill gardening, a pallet garden that hangs on the wall and starting my first seeds for my spring and summer gardens. These would be vine and perennial seeds.
When I set my indoor garden areas up I try to plan for spring with the thought of moving as much of my winter gardening outdoors when the weather improves. It’s easy to move containers and the pallet garden to a protected porch but the small seedlings need to grow and gain strength before I move them to a cold frame or garden area.
This years windowsill garden is mainly herbs and a few greens. I have just cut the lettuce crop back and plan to start a few new varieties. A few Pok Choy seeds were just started and I plan to re-root the basil. I cut back my basil plants every 3 weeks and if they get scraggly looking I re-root a small section of the plant in water and create a new healthy plant.
The pallet garden was a mix of flowers in the early fall, herb and greens. As the winter season moved along I switched to radishes, onions, herbs and greens. I am just adding new varieties of herbs to the pallet and in about three weeks I will be able to move the gardening outside. I plan to place it on a table frame and cover it at night. The herbs should handle the cooler night easily but to cut back on climate shock I will tent the pallet with plastic about 5 pm and leave it covered until morning. Hay or straw will be placed under the pallet table to prevent air currents and add additional heat.
Cool Season Gardening tip: I use clear milk jugs filled with water to add more heat to a covered garden area. Set the milk jug about 3 inches into the soil to help get heat from the ground. The sun will capture heat during the day and warm and this additional heat source will add enough heat during the night to keep your plants warm.
And my final gardening with seeds is two fold.
I use the plastic jug method for older seeds where I am not sure of their viability. I place sterile seed starter soil in a milk jug that has been cut in half. I water the soil lightly , plant the seed and mark the milk jug well for variety. The milk jug is taped together then I set it outdoors in northern lighting and ignore it. Being sealed the seed has additional heat and is almost in a mini greenhouse environment. Nature plays it part and when its warm enough the seeds will sprout. This method will use less soil and space for seeds that may not sprout as well. Depending on the age of seed my success rate is 30 to 80%.
My other seeds are started by standard rules of gardening. Vines 3 to 6 months ahead of the last frost, annuals 8 to ten weeks ahead and veggies 4 to 8 weeks ahead. Your best guide is to read the back of the seed packet and follow their directions.
PS: For tomato plants I break the rules. This is only because I want monster 2 foot plants to set out in the spring. If you interested here is is my method, the gardeners rake re-potting method. Only use it if you have good lighting and plan to spend more time on your plants. Tomatoes are usually started 8 weeks before the last frost.
Have a great new gardening season, Denise from The Gardener’s Rake
Farmers Markets add a flair of country living, offer fresh vegetables and fruits and are a place to exchange gardening tips. At this time of year local markets are opening up and provide a great place to shop. My local farmers market opens this weekend and one of the highlights is the spotlight demonstrations offered by the master gardening program.
The Penn State Extension Master Gardeners have their schedule set up for spotlight presentations at the Farmers Market at the Liberty Street Parking lot in downtown Warren.
The season starts off with “Composting” and “Preparing Good Gardening Soil.” Penn State Extension Master Gardeners, Judy Kepple and Celia Knapp, will share tips on how improve your soil so that your plants will thrive. And as an added bonus this week local perennial plants from the Master Gardeners gardens will be available for sale.
This years schedule offer topics on a wide variety of subjects. Master Gardeners will be available to help you with gardening questions and problems. There will also be soil testing kits available for sale. These kits will help you to determine how to improve your soil for healthier plants and a better growing environment.
June 16 – Composting, Preparing Good Garden Soil
June 23 – Small Space Gardening
July 7 -The Many Faces of Master Gardeners
July 21 – Ground Covers (Celia Knapp)
August 4 – Wildflowers
August 18 – Edibles
Sept 1 – Tomato Testing 9 – 11:30
Sept 15 – A Garden comes Full Circle
Set 29 – The Versatility of Herbs 9 – noon
Oct 13 – Garden Journal/ Photography
Oct 27 – Carving Pumpkins 9- 11:15, Decorating with Pumpkins and Gourds
Join the Master Gardeners at the Farmers Market from 8a.m. to noon for information on gardening and to select fresh produce and flowers from local farmers.