March 1, 2017

Lasagna Gardening, Raised Beds and Square Foot Gardens


What's the biggest gardening challenge you face?

Lasagna Gardening, Raised Beds and Square Foot Gardening

Here at Oak Hill, my biggest challenge is definitely fighting the Bermuda grass. My attempts to garden in the ground have been less than stellar. Container gardening worked better, but it would take a lot of containers to hold all the plants I want need want.

So last year I began building a new raised bed garden. While I was at it, I planned to double my garden space. And I also wanted to do it on the smallest possible budget - preferably a zero budget.

I'm still working on the expansion project, because it has to be fit in among everything else. I'm using reclaimed lumber to build the new beds, and I've found that the most difficult part is filling them. With my zero-dollar budget, I can't just go buy bags and bags of soil for each raised bed. So I'm composting like crazy and also scooping the black dirt from the old goat yard without making a big hole in the ground.

Last fall's leaves waiting to be added to the compost pile.
Last fall's leaves waiting to be added to the compost pile.

Some of the new beds are being filled using the "lasagna garden" method (affiliate link); these are the beds that will have time to compost and mellow before being planted. Simply put, I'm layering horse manure, garden debris, lawn clippings, leaves, kitchen waste, chicken/duck/goat manure, and spoiled hay in the new beds. This flat compost bed sort of resembles lasagna with its repeating layers. All this organic material will eventually decompose into wonderful garden soil.

Raised beds lend themselves well to square foot gardening. Mel Bartholomew's book Square Foot Gardening (affiliate link) explains it all. Since I'm using a defined rectangular area in each bed - usually 4 feet by 8 feet - it's a simple matter to divide that space into squares and plant each one according to the square foot gardening method.

Here you can see the cabbage I grew last year.

Cabbage in a raised bed garden.

This week I'm fixing a mistake I made last year. I'd dug out the spilled hay and goat manure under the goats' hay feeder, and dumped it into a new raised bed. I was hoping it was decomposed enough even though I could see hay layered in the strata. Some people call this "barn pack." Unfortunately it just hardened into dry clumps and in just a few weeks, before I covered it with more soil or compost ingredients, it grew a great crop of grass from the seeds that were still viable in the hay.

Digging out the weedy bed.

The only remedy was to shovel out the barn pack and compost it like I should have done in the first place. One fine morning last week I finished half of the 4'x8' bed. Under the barn pack clumps I'd lined the ground in the new raised bed with a thick layer of cardboard which has completely composted over the winter, leaving great soil underneath with a wonderful texture. Too bad the whole bed wasn't filled with this black gold!

The rest of the bed needs to be dug out, then I'll replace the cardboard and refill it with compost and soil. I'll bury the clumps of barn pack deep in my compost pile. This bed will hold my tomatoes and peppers this year.

Sprouting garlic.

In some of the beds I made last year, the garlic and comfrey are up and growing. The walking onions have greened up and look happy. It's time to plant spinach and other cold weather crops.

Do you use the square garden or lasagna garden methods? Or maybe both?




This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one of these links and order a product (even a different product) I will receive a small commission, but this does not affect the price you pay in any way. Read my full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting Oak Hill Homestead.






This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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18 comments:

  1. I have read a lot about lasagna gardening and heard that once you get it set up it is pretty much care free as far as weeding. Raised beds seem more popular every year and easier to take care of. It amazing how much gardening as evolved to our modern needs. Thanks for sharing on ideas and progress. Visiting from Homestead blog hop. Pinned & tweeted.

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    1. Marla, thank you for sharing the post and for visiting. I hope to see you again!

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  2. I have been lasagna gardening for several years and it has been amazing. Since I live in the land of clay, I had a difficult time getting things to grow. One day I stumbled across a book on lasagna gardening and I haven't looked back. The quality of my soil now is so different from where I started, and it was all done with matter found on our farm.
    Love that!
    Stopping by from the Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop :)
    Tracy Lynn | simplelivingcountrygal.com

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    1. Tracy, isn't it a wonderful thing to make such a difference in your soil using "home-grown" materials? Lasagna gardening really makes a difference in the soil and it's easy to do.

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  3. I have raised beds in my floating garden next to our float cabin on Powell Lake. I do a modified square foot gardening technique so I can pack the most possible in my limited space. My worst habit is to grow things too close together so they don't mature as well. - Margy

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    1. A floating garden sounds lovely, Margy. What an interesting lifestyle you have!

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  4. I'll have to check out some of these books. I think we do something similar in our garden. Thanks for sharing on Waste Less Wednesday Blog Hop!

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    1. I'd love to know if you use a similar method and if it has a name. :-)

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  5. I am a gardening newbie. I've never heard of Lasagna Gardening but with our poor soil that and compost sounds great!

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    1. This is a great way to fix poor soil. It can take awhile for all the ingredients to decay into compost, but it's still the easiest way I've found. Good luck, Helene! You can do it!

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  6. I don't use wither of these methods but they do sound very interesting. Now what the heck is Bermuda Grass? Off to google it?! #WasteLessWednesday

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    1. Bermuda grass: an Oklahoma cattleman's favorite hay crop. It is tenacious, perennial and grows well in our heat and drought. The runners go everywhere and to get rid of it you have to get ALL the roots out. My dad called it "crab grass."

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  7. I enjoyed learning about lasagna gardening and square foot gardening, Kathi. It's will soon be time for us to start planting up our gardens in the UK and I'm getting excited already! Thank you for sharing with us at Hearth and Soul. Pinned.

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    1. Isn't spring exciting, April?! I love planting season!

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  8. Love this! Just planted all of mine! <3

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    1. You must be further ahead than we are here. I was able to plant some cool-weather crops but it's definitely not time to plant tomatoes and so on - even though the weather seems warm enough. Spring is too unpredictable. :-)

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  9. Excellent article

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    1. Thank you! I hope it was helpful.

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