Sunday, April 25, 2010

Making Lasagna Garden Beds!

On January 9th, a group of Urban Mountain Farms volunteers overcame the wintery cold and completed the remaining garden beds for the 955 yard.

The garden beds were made of layers of tree leaves and horse manure piled on top of a base of cardboard. The cardboard was spread out in the desired shape of the gardens. The cardboard makes a good base and stops plants and weeds from growing up from the original ground layer

Next, leaves, that had been collected by fellow Indianapolis residents and set out on the curb in plastic bags, were spread out on top of the cardboard in a layer about an inch thick. Many of the bags were filled with whole leaves that had been raked into the bags, but the most valuable bags contained leaves that had been mulched – or cut up – as they were picked up by a lawn mower. The mulched leaves break down more quickly and develop more useful bacteria and fungi to help garden crops grow.

On top of these leaves, manure was spread out in an even layer also about an inch thick. The manure had been collected from a horse ranch nearby, with additional manure brought from a horse ranch on the South side of town.

Leaves were again layered on top of the manure and manure on top of those leaves in successive layers until the pile reached about 18 to 22 inches. This is the desired height to develop hardy top soil to be used for gardening. The layers mimic natural layers of plant material found in the environment. They break down together with the help of fungi and bacteria that are also aid garden crops in growing.