So you want to start a garden…TODAY…but you haven’t been planning and tilling and building the soil all year. That’s OK. You can start an instant garden and get started harvesting food right away!
If you are new to gardening, you will want to check out my “Beginning Gardening Class” This will give you the basics as to choosing where to put your garden, when to plant, how to choose what to plant and so much more.
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Why I Use The Lasagna Gardening Method.
For your plants to grow well you need good soil. But my natural soil here is terrible. So I have 2 choices, move or build my own soil so I have a chance of ANYTHING growing. Moving is not an option so I had to learn about soil building.
Years ago I discovered a book called Lasagna Gardening which changed the way I garden. By essentially “creating” new soil and bypassing my natural dirt (it’s hardly worthy of being called soil), my garden has been so much more successful. This method cuts way down on weeding and makes my plants healthier so they are less attractive to bugs. and besides, it makes starting a new bed quick and easy. What’s not to love.
Related: 12 Ways To Make Weeds – Go Away!
What Is An Instant Garden?
An instant garden is just that. A garden that can be started and planted in as little as 1 day. You don’t have to wait months for the soil to “be ready”. It can be added to every year and it will just get better and better.
What Is Lasagna Gardening?
Lasagna is the method we use to build an instant garden.
Lasagna gardening is a method of layering organic material (kind of like making a lasagna) in such a way that the soil components are all in the garden plot and will start breaking down as your plants grow. It is easy to plant in, requires no tilling or digging and allows you to start growing food very quickly.
Related: To Till Or Not To Till.
Advantages of Lasagna Gardening.
Layering your materials allows you to start gardening so much faster, without all that backbreaking work of tilling or double digging. It also creates good soil where there wasn’t any good soil before.
By creating humus-rich soil, there will be far less watering needed and at the same time good drainage.
You also use up many of the materials like leaves and kitchen scraps that would otherwise just end up in the landfill.
When To Start An Instant Garden.
You can start your instant garden today. Any time of year. However, it’s more “instant” if there is NOT snow on the ground. You will need to check when the proper time is to plant vegetables in your area, but the garden can be built at any time.
Related: 12 Best Hot Weather Vegetables.
What Materials To Use In An Instant Garden.
You can use many organic materials to build your garden but here are a few of my favorites and a few no-nos.
Remember, you don’t have to have all of these. Use the ones that are available to you.
- Cardboard – I always like to start out with a layer or two of cardboard. It smothers the weeds and attracts earthworms which help turn your layers into wonderful soil. – B (check at appliance stores for large pieces)
- And/or Newspaper – White pages only, not the colored ad pages. – B
- Small sticks – These continue to break down over time and feed your soil. You can use large sticks if you have enough material to put on top. This is borrowing from the gardening technique called Hugelkultur. – B
- Wood Chips – B
- Pine Needles – B
- Leaves – B
- Shredded Office Paper – B
- Grass Clippings – G
- Organic Straw – B
- Organic Hay – B
- Weeds/ without seeds – G
- Kitchen Scraps – G
- Coffee Grounds – save your own or get some from your local coffee shop – G
- Toilet Paper Tubes – B
- Manure from farm animals (chicken, duck, cow, horse, rabbit, goat or sheep) – G
- Compost – G
- Worm Castings – G
- Seaweed – G
- Blood Meal – G
Potting Soil – Garden Soil – Good Quality Top Soil.
Things Not To Use
- Diseased plants
- Dog or cat manure (can have nasty pathogens)
How To Make An Instant Garden?
- Plan your garden.
- Determine the best place for your garden.
- Collect all the layers of organic material.
- Start layering your material.
- Water between each layer.
- Plant Your Vegetable Plants. (you can use seeds, but plants make your garden more “instant”)
Your instant garden can be started on the ground or in a raised garden bed. The sides just help contain it. Then you start with the cardboard in the bottom. This inhibits the weeds. next, if you are using something that will take a long time to break down, like sticks or logs, they go in next.
The following layers should alternate between nitrogen-rich (Green – G) and carbon-rich (Brown – B) materials. You can have twice as much brown material as you do green material.
Generously water between each layer.
When you have used up all your material except your potting soil layer, dig holes for your plants and put in a little of the potting soil/garden soil. Plant each plant in this.
Water it all in and check it every day or so.
Fertilize weekly using something like compost tea or fish emulsion.
Related: My Garden Journal – Planner
What Can Be Grown In An Instant Garden?
You can grow any plant in an instant garden. It is a quick and easy way to build soil and start growing food, but an instant garden can be used to grow any plant.
Just remember, as the layers turn to soil it will reduce in height. That means if you plant a tree it will be considerably lower when the composting is finished and you don’t want your tree sitting in a hole.
Maintaining Your Instant Garden
Each year you will want to add layers to your garden. As your layers begin to break down, your soil will need to be fed. Compost and mulch are wonderful choices, but any of the above choices and combinations can be added.
More Quick Gardening Methods
If you don’t have a backyard or want more ideas for growing food, even growing inside, Here are a few.
Microgreens – You can grow microgreens year-round, inside or out.
Garden Tower – Grow lots of food, inside or out in as little as 4 square feet.
Container Gardening – If you don’t have ground space you can grow in containers anywhere, even on a driveway.
Now, Go Grow Some Food In Your Instant Garden!
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