Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Soil Lasagna

One wheelbarrow load of mulch away from our completed project!

Have you ever made SOIL LASAGNA?

Used EVAPOTRANSPIRATION (or E.T.) in a sentence?

Do you know that your soil needs OWL for anything to grow properly?

This was all Greek to me until March when my husband and I signed up for a class held by the San Diego Water District.

Which seemed a good place to find out how to extend our vegetable garden by getting rid of some of our lawn and lower our water bill in the process.

Before Photo: Vegetable garden amongst a sea of bad grass.

Many neighbors have gone xeriscape, drought-tolerant, au natural.

So we observed the process. Which went like this. Turn off your sprinklers for three or so months. Watch your lawn turn brown. Or shorten the procedure by spraying some kind of poison to kill the grass. Get someone in to dig up the hard soil that is left. Bring in good soil. Plant some stuff that isn't grass.

Ok, that is one approach but it didn't seem to be the best approach since we would be planting vegetables. That we planned to EAT.

Hence, the class.

And the lively and knowledgeable instructor Jodie Cook taught us how to make 'soil lasagna', which means taking a few simple steps to get rid of grass naturally and leave behind rich gorgeous soil for future planting.

What to do ahead of time:

1)  Mark sprinklers (we actually raised the heads so they would be above the lasagna).

2)  Dig a perimeter around the hardscape (for us that was the house, concrete slab and fence).

3)  Calculate amount of compost needed with this formula (cubic feet = length x width x height). In this case the height is 1/12 or one inch of compost).

4)  Save your newspapers for a couple of weeks.

5)  Calculate amount of mulch needed with this formula (cubic feet = length x width x height). In this case the height is 1/3 or 1/2 or 4-6 inches of compost).

6)  Set aside a weekend for this project (preferably one that is not hot and windy, which is what we did).

Okay, are you ready?

This is going to be a piece of cake, errrr, a slice of lasagna, errrr, you know what I mean, let's get to work:

A)  Spread 1 inch of compost. Water.

B)  Spread newspaper on top. Water.

C)  Spread 4-6 inches of mulch. Water.

When finished, sit back and admire.

It will take 6 to 8 weeks to 'bake'.

In the meantime, the lasagna should be kept moist (like a wrung out sponge). Use a moisture meter to check.

Stay Tuned.

Will report back in July to show the results!

SOIL LASAGNA (see above)

OWL --- living soil needs a balance of oxygen + water + life

EVAPOTRANSPIRATION --- is the amount of water that evaporates from the soil surface and is transpired by plants through the foliage during a certain time period. It is a way to compare the water needs of different plants.


  1. That is supercalifragicool.

  2. You guys are amazing!! I love the concept behind this idea (as long as I could get someone else to do the work). I was just thinking about you as I was thinning my little-shop-of-horrors blackberry patch. The berries are plentiful and amazing! Do you want any blackberry bush starts?

    1. Of course, they can act as peer pressure for my fruitless boysenberry bush!