Garden Soil Lasagna – how to fill new raised beds

 in Garden

Garden Soil Lasagna is especially good for new raised beds, but can be used in mounds as well. 

It is how it sounds, this article is about making a lasagna from all the ingredients that go into garden soil. Don’t worry all the work is done outside, your kitchen will stay clean for this recipe. 

If you don’t already, you will need to start collecting fresh organic material like you do for compost. You will need a good amount of fresh organic material to make new soil layers in your raised beds. If you can’t collect it very fast you can freeze the compost materials until you have enough. I usually do a block or two segment of soil layering at a time as I collect organic material. 

Good Compost Materials:
Fruit and vegetable leftovers and skins
Dust from sweeping the house
Hair cuttings

More about composting – here – including what not to compost. 

What you need

An empty raised bed
Small woody material (sticks)
Dried leaves
Fresh organic material (or frozen)
Garden soil (doesn’t have to be nutrient rich)
Blocks or weights (optional)
Water 

Step 1
Make your raised bed out of any material you like, see my how to with cement blocks here. 

Step 2
Line the bottom of the bed with woody stick material, the smaller your sticks the better. I used oregano branches, but the dried branches from any of your bushes would do. The purpose of the small sticks is to slow the drain of water, make sure you layer them enough to do this job without creating a lot of bulk. They should take up less than 1 inch on the bottom of your bed. I used optional weights to crush down the sticks a little. I left them on top of the sticks for a week because I got busy, my original plan was 3 days. 

Step 3
Remove the weights and cover the sticks with a thin layer of soil followed by dry material, such as dried tree leafs or chopped palms. This dry layer should cover the sticks well, maybe another inch.

Step 4
Cover the dry material with your fresh (or frozen) organic material. This should be a 1 inch layer all the way to the corners. You can, like me, do a small segment of your bed at a time as you collect organic material. Or you can freeze the material as your space allows. 

Step 5
Cover this again with a generous layer of small dry material like tree leaves. You want to see no organic material. You should add nearly double the amount of dry for the amount of fresh you placed. Remember if using palms to cut them into very small pieces before layering. 

Step 6

Cover everything with as much dirt as the bed will hold, it will compact down about 1 inch as the layers compost. You will now want to cover your prepared section with a generous amount of water. You want the water to get down into all the layers. Then cover with cardboard and weights to keep animals from digging in your beautiful new beds. 

Step 7

Leave everything to sit and compost for about 4 weeks and then plant with medium sized transplants of your favorite fruits and vegetables. If the soil is too dense you can add some garden sand to help with drainage. Poke into soil with a pitch fork, resist the urge to till.

If you are looking for more on soil management you can see about overwintering –here
and about fertilizing plant tea –here

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