One of the reasons we fell in love with our house is because of space. Besides the awesome house, we had more land than we expected.
Once the papers were signed, it was time to get to work. Last year we started off small and I set up a tiny spot by the back door to be our garden space.
Things went well until July when the constant sun pretty much baked most of our veggies.
I decided that for the next year, I’d move to a better spot. The problem was decided where.
The back had an area that could work, but there were a few major things we needed to do to get it ready.
Turning a Weedy Sandy Space Into a Garden
One of the first tasks we needed to deal with before we started the garden was beefing up the soil.
When we first moved that back side area was covered with weeds, some taller than my husband (who’s just over six feet).
Once they were chopped down, though, we discovered that the soil was not great for what we wanted to grow. It was really sandy, which meant water and nutrients can pass through quickly. Translation for us? More work to keep it watered and fertilized.
Translation for us? More work to keep it watered and fertilized.
To prepare such a large space and stick with our budget, I decided to go with the lasagna garden.
Lasagna Gardening 101
Like the name suggests, lasagna gardening is about building layers.
The first layer is either brown corrugated cardboard (like we had from the move and Amazon) or three or four layers newspaper laid right on top of the area you’re building up.
You then lay down soil, compost, mulch on top. The box breaks down into material to help the soil and you block the weeds from below from springing up.
With other house projects going, we stayed frugal and used a huge pile of wood chips in various stages of decomposing. We had gotten it from chopping down our trees in the back.
We also strategically incorporated leaves we collected during autumn, included some material from the compost pile, and straw.
You can also use:
- Food scraps like vegetables and fruit
- Grass clippings
- Coffee grounds
- Tea leaves
- Garden trimmings
You get the idea – anything you’d use to dump into a compost pile can be used in your lasagna garden.
One thing that helped speed things along was pre-soaking the boxes before laying them. This allowed them to break down faster.
From Garden to Food Forest
Once we looked at the how the space was developing, I thought we could step things up a bit with our garden plan.
Instead of a large garden, we thought starting a food forest would be a better fit.
What’s the difference between a garden and a food forest?
Besides the scale in terms of size, a food forest is about long term productivity. The permaculture piece is how you design it.
With a food forest, you’re creating systems that mimic nature.
We’re using permaculture ideas like companion planting to help protect our vegetables and fruits, but also increase yield.
A food forest can be created in your backyard. Each year you can observe the results, adjust as needed, and build up the ecosystem.
Less Work on You, Less Stress on Land
Using permaculture methods meant we could not only help improve the environment but give ourselves a bit of a break.
The lasagna method meant we didn’t have to do any double digging or tilling. A double win!
Thoughts on a Food Forest
Since we used boxes to jumpstart things, we thought it would be appropriate to refer to it as our Amazon food forest.
I’ll share updates with pictures soon, so you can get a better idea of the benefits and challenges of growing one.
I’d love to hear from you. How many of you have a home garden? How did you build up and prepare it? Have you started a food forest or thinking of one?