The last two days have been a whirlwind of dirt hauling, layering and watering (interspersed with Saturday brunch and the Dwell convention today, both necessary midday breaks from the beating sun.) As the sun set this evening I managed to get all the components of this organic lasagna in the beds and watered down… with the exception of the final layer of compost and soil, as well as the plants that are ferociously outgrowing their pots by the hour. Looking back I can say it was a laborious process, but for whatever reason feels well worth it. Here’s what went into the weekend:
The first layer was composed of cardboard boxes I saved from my recent move. I overlapped the pieces as best I could, using a box cutter to slice off flaps for areas of the dirt that were still exposed. This was then watered down and sprinkled with blood meal and bone meal (to attract beneficial insects such as worms, as well as to promote decomposition organically. Plus, the plants also love it so it’s great all around!)
The second layer was a mass of newspapers, first carefully laid out in 6-8 sheet pieces (unfolded) that covered almost halfway up the sides of the interior raised beds, then haphazardly placed in another 4 sheet layer across the center portions of the boxes as well. Even though I tried to wet the papers down as I worked, I still ended up chasing some papers across the yard.
The third layer was alfalfa hay. While Lucerne was suggested by several online resources, it seemed that there wasn’t a hard and fast rule here as long as it was a good quality feed hay that would compost nicely. (I’m hoping I made the right choice?) I watered this layer thoroughly as well since I want to get the plants in the ground sooner rather than later, and I don’t particularly want a flammable backyard.
I then spread the fourth layer as quickly as possible, partially because the sun was beginning to go down, but mostly because it was composted steer manure that immediately made the backyard smell like a cow pasture. (And yeah, you can use less smelly products but there just aren’t a lot of fertilizers that will beat manure in both price and production.)
Finally, as the sun dropped below the fence line and over the roof of the house behind us, I flaked off two bales of straw (and piled it into the beds at a depth of approximately 8″.) This is what it looked like before I watered it down:
And this is what it looked like after:
Tomorrow after work, I’m going to see if I can’t water down this top mulch layer a little more. I’d also like to get the topsoil on, as well as some plants in the ground, but we’ll see… better to do it right the first time!
Oh, and Dwell Expo coverage will be coming your way tomorrow as well… in the meantime, I’m once again (and unsurprisingly so!) exhausted.