dsc04120On Saturday, I drove up to my friends’ ranch in Fiddletown, CA, to shovel shit. Polly and James, the organic farmers from Portland, urged me to add lots of nitrogen to my lasagna beds to initiate in a dramatic way the decomposition that will, with any luck and a bit of sun, make planting possible in a month’s time. Shoveling shit is hard work. Fortunately, I proved so feeble at it that Dan stepped in to help. We half-filled six industrial strength plastics bags with chicken and sheep manure and quite a bit of already prepared soil. Even only half-filled, the bags required the two of us to hoist them into my trunk and on to the back seat of my Honda Civic. I got a headache from the amonia in the manure as I drove back — windows open a good crack in spite of the cold — into town.

Along the way, I stopped at the T’s ranch — where I’ve been harvesting summer vegetables for the past two years but no more! — for a dinner party. I was not properly dressed.

dsc04125I spent Sunday lay down the last lasagna bed and treating the ones already in place with the manure. Then I strew the rest of the manure on the top of the soil of the bed that runs around the perimeter of the yard. Everyone tells me that chicken manure is so hot that it can burn roots to death if applied too heavily. But I have no idea how much manure it takes to create too much heat. So, I’ve hedged my bet. I let the manure sit on the top of the soil, bathed it in a bit of hose water, and will hope that it breaks down slowly over the coming weeks. On the lasagna beds, however, I applied it liberally, since I have not yet planted anything and I really want to generate heat.

The suspense will kill me. One month from today, I plan on inserting the first fava bean and borlotti bean seeds in the bed that gets the most sun. Will the bed have begun to decompose? Will it germinate no matter what stage of decomposition the bed has reached, as the Lasagna lady promises? Have I added enough water to bake it? Or is it too dry?

Time will tell.

9 thoughts on “Gardening: Lasagna Garden III

  1. “The suspense will kill me.” Very funny. I’m impressed by your lasagne gardening efforts. Can’t wait to see how it turns out…. I’m optimistic that it’s going to be good for you. Now, however, I’m thinking that you need some chickens in your backyard to make your own manure (and they give you those most excellent homegrown eggs). Of course you always have access to Sherry’s shit, but there’s nothing like your own, I always say.

  2. Jill, I’ve got chickens in minds but not until my dogs “go off to college.” And that may not be all that long, because at 10 years old the German Shepherd is walking like she’s going to graduate within the year.

    But I hope my garden turns out. The weather is pretty warm this week. I should get out there and help things along.

    Are you still covered in snow?

  3. Yes, we ARE still covered in snow. And in the midst of an Artic blast. (It was -15 F last night. A good night to be an indoor creature, for sure). It’s hideous and I’m going through my annual I Hate Winter period. I envy you your lovely, temperate winter weather.

    What are you planning to grow in your beds? Have you placed your seed orders yet? I haven’t placed my seed orders yet b/c I think I’m going to rework all of my garden this year. I’m toying with the idea of growing my entire garden all in containers, so I have no weeding and can properly amend my beds, deal with my aisle problems, etc. etc….

  4. In containers? Really? Maybe I’ll eventually get to that point, but at the moment I’m really looking forward to the full vegetable bed experience.

    On the advice of Polly, the organic CSA gardener, I’m going to try burying a few fava bean seeds about 2 inches down in the bed furthest to the back, which gets the most sun. It’s a bush bean, so I won’t have to trellis it. And I’ve got another bush bean, borlotti beans, that I’ll plant at the same time. She advised planting in the last week of this month!

    I’ve got other packets of seeds that I have to figure out when to plant. Some of them come from Seeds of Italy, the main importer of vegetable seeds from Italy. So, at the moment, I’ve got packets of seeds for:

    long purple eggplant
    Radiccchio (Polly says difficult to grow)
    Asian cucumbers
    Dino kale (lacinato kale; cavallo nero)
    and several kinds of tomatoes

    It’s in the 60s today, but who knows what will happen over the next few weeks. We really badly need rain. Who knows if we’ll get it. But I’m itching to get going with the germination. Any advise about when to start germinating the seeds I’ve got?

  5. Yes, I’ve heard of Seeds of Italy. I think they have a pretty good reputation. You’ll find out soon enough, eh? As far as getting things in the ground, if I were you, I’d get a copy of a good seed catalog, like Johnny’s Select Seeds, which has all kinds of good info on planting temperatures, which is really what you care about. Off the top of my head, the tomatoes and eggplant can’t be put out until night temps are above the 40s, but won’t do much until night temps are warmer than that… Cukes really can’t be started inside b/c their roots don’t like to be disturbed, so plant them outside, again when things are quite warm. Leeks, arugula and kale are all cool weather crops. You can start all of them inside, but I think they germinate at low temps, and once they are up a bit, can take low 30s. So you can probably start them soon, though the kale tastes better when it’s had cold temps at the end of it’s life, so be sure to seed some kale and arugula in the fall, so you can have it in Nov. & Dec. and actually, probably all winter.
    I’ve never grown rhubarb from seed, but it’s a very hardy plant, so I’d try to get it started now, and you can plant it out whenever it has some roots. (You know that the leaves are poisonous, right? So if you have any mouthy dogs, put it where they can’t get it).

    Have fun, and pity those of us living in the deep freeze!

  6. I re-read my comment & need to clarify that cukes will be happiest direct-seeded into the ground. I think the rest of it can be started inside, in pots.

  7. Ok, that’s great advice. It’s super warm today, in the high 60s. I’m thinking of planting a couple of fava beans and some borlotti this weekend. We’ll see what happens!

    Thanks for the warning about the rhubarb. No, I didn’t know that the leaves are poisonous. My dogs don’t chew on leaves, although I occasionally see them munch on grass, but not often. I think it will be ok.

    According to friends, the problem now is that the fruit trees might begin to bud because the temps are so warm.

    I do indeed pity anyone who’s stuck in the cold right now. Stay warm.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.