One way to create your own planting medium, and learn what helps healthy plants grow, is through Lasagna Gardening. Lasagna Gardening is a method of stacking different layers of materials to create the ideal “soil” for plants to grow, similar to adding layers of ingredients to create lasagna. The layers of material serve several functions; they will serve as the base for nutritional uptake for young plants and as a stable way for plants to absorb water through their roots as they grow.
To start a Lasagna garden, select a flat area with access to sunlight. In the area where the garden will be, first clear any rocks and plants, including grass, so that there is only soil left. To create your own nutritional base for your plants, add layers on top of one another to create a planting bed, which can be up to 18 inches high. The first layer is newspaper or cardboard. All of the edges of the newspaper or cardboard should be overlapping, this layer can be 1 inch thick. The newspaper is then followed by peat moss, also an inch thick, and then 6 inches of mulch. Follow that with more layers of peat moss and mulch until the bed reaches 12 to 18 inches. The mulch layers could also be replaced with layers of compost. Each layer should be wet and relatively compact. Seeds can be planted 24 hours after the lasagna garden is complete with all of its layers.
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Lasagna Gardening information found in Harris’ Farmer’s Almanac: A 2012 Seasonal Gardening Guide