Lasagna Gardening

September 8, 2009

We are living on-base which feels like a return to dorm life: lots of identical spaces, the joys and challenges of very close quarters, minus keg parties, and the addition of children, lots of children. We still don't have our belongings so we are living a fairly spartan existence. I actually enjoy this stage of moving. Always makes me think I can actually attain that elusive goal of voluntary simplicity, yet I know that once our stuff arrives I will quickly return to our familiar pattern of clutter and de-clutter.

So for now I am happily putting all of my e
nergy into transforming our little yard into our own space. I spent the first week walking the neighborhood taking note of what seems to be growing well and spreading the word that I would welcome any donations of plants and/or cuttings. During the second week I started collecting large rocks (from the surrounding countryside and from neighbors who were moving out). I used the rocks to lay out one large bed in the front of our house. And then I did something that shocked the neighbors and the housing manager. I plastered the new bed with large sheets of cardboard. I then watered the cardboard for a few days in a row. In the third week, I added a layer of horse manure followed by a layer of grass cuttings, and topped it with a layer of compost and topsoil. And now I am slowly gathering plants to add to that bed. The neighbors seem relieved that the bed is starting to look a little more normal (no longer just a pile of cardboard and manure!). Once I have most of the bed planted I will add a layer of newspaper and finish it off with some mulch.It's a method of gardening which seems very appropriate for our new life in Italy: lasagna gardening. The newspaper and cardboard are great (free and non-toxic) weed barriers. They will also break down and help to make that heavy clay more garden-friendly. Same for the manure, compost, and grass clippings. I'll try to post some more pics as things progress. Here are a couple from the early stages. Noah loved shoveling all of the manure, but none of us were crazy about the flies that made the trip home with us!
Karen (South of Rome) said...

Too funny! That clay is something else I tell you. I had special shoes for walking in the countryside. Ones I could care less about because they would be covered in 6 inches of clay muck by the time I returned!

Dana said...

Now THIS is gardening. What I accomplished was just pure luck. . . and a bit of magical Italian sun.

morninglight mama said...

Sounds so amazingly wonderful. May you have delicious plants growing soon!!

katy said...

Sounds Great! I've never heard of using cardboard, but have used newspaper myself. Can't wait to read about your plants!

Corinne said...

fantastic - i was imagining a garden full of the things you use to make lasagna :)

Mom said...

I thought the same thing that Corinne thought!
It sounds great, but you are my hero....I never could/would have shoveled all that manure....even with Noah's help. I am such a priss I would have had to wear gloves up to my armpits, boots to my knee caps and a clothes pin n my nose!

Laurie said...

Lucia- you are the coolest mom I know. That is fabulous.

The Clan McCawley said...

Sounds like ya'll are settling in! Yeah for you!! I, too always love the part where we're living with just enough to eke by! I always live with the fantasy that I'll get it all put away so quickly once it arrives...like I said, a fantasy! The best thing about overseas moves is the fact that we can't take all our crap with us. Enjoy this wonderful journey and keep writing all about it. I love living vicariously through you!

Emily said...

This is great! I've always been at such a loss with our strange soil. Not to mention that the one time I actually tried to dig a garden here I found a big grate just under the dirt. Needless to say, I quickly realized I was in way over my head! I'll be interested to see how yours turns out though--it certainly sounds like you know what you're doing!

KC said...

Wow, I think I'm going to try that in our garden.

likeschocolate said...

I have always wanted to go to Mt. Etna. Maybe next fall when we go to Rome for my husbands work. I saw a travel show on it once and since then it has been on my to see list.

Pam said...

I expected nothing less from you, Lucia. BC girls will have a field day with this one....just picturing your idylic Italian countryside lifestyle which is actually shoveling manure makes me laugh out loud! You are amazing! Can't wait to see the garden in full bloom.

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