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no-till methods and layer/lasagna gardening

  • Subject: [cg] no-till methods and layer/lasagna gardening
  • From: Cameron McLaughlin cmm2000@earthlink.net
  • Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 22:12:40 -0500

Lasagna Gardening for Small Spaces: A Layering System for Big Results 
in Small Gardens and Containers (Rodale Organic Gardening Book) (Paperback)

Good description of the basics. Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale 
Permaculture (an absolutely wonderful book which will change the way 
you think about gardens) also describes the fundamentals of never 
tilling again and why it works.

In two years my home garden has gone from being the usual sandy 
expanse with about ten types of weeds to a lush and fertile vegetable 
garden and diverse habitat with dozens of plant species. I use the 
general principles of layering and growing right in raw compost as 
well as in raised beds of well-rotted compost. Any needed aeration is 
performed by friendly moles and earthworms, and so far there has been 
no need for any soil-friendly insecticide except BT to control 
mosquitoes in the little frog pond. This summer I've seen no 
mosquitoes at all, though, and no evidence of larvae because there 
are now so many bugs and birds to eat them. I wish now that I hadn't 
spent so much time turning compost when I could have achieved the 
same thing by balancing brown and green better in the layered beds to 
begin with. When I started this garden, I just started piling organic 
material onto the soil and have never turned or tilled the underlying 
soil anywhere.

I have collards and other greens that have been producing as 
perennials for more than nine months because I just snipped off 
flower heads whenever they appeared. After an initial cabbage moth 
invasion that denuded almost everything, they came back, and I spend 
almost no time on weeding the beds now (the rest of the space, yes). 
The greens which are growing next to and in new compost piles are 
actually more productive now than they were when I was paying daily 
attention to them and lavishing seasoned compost on them. 
Pepper/garlic spray seems to repel a lot of pests very well here.

I completely agree that once you examine the value of tilling and 
question a lot of assumptions we make about how to start a garden, 
not tilling gives you some very nice surprises--such as a whole lot 
less work, healthier soil, and much better yield.

Cameron McLaughlin
Pensacola, Florida
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