Paul Letby, our Canadian “Lasagna (vermi) Gardening” correspondent (haha) recently sent me an email update, and encouraged me to share it with RWC readers (thanks again, Paul!). If you missed Paul’s first installment, be sure to check it out here: Lasagna Gardening with Red Worms
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Hi Bentley! I thought I’d send a little update to keep you up to speed on my garden. (not that things are moving that fast in the garden… they’re plants! Ha ha!)
I’m beginning to see a difference in the results I’m getting based on construction of the beds. I didn’t mention it before, but the vermi-bed is built differently than the rest, and is getting much better results up to now. The compost ecosystem bed is built the same as the big bed and is doing much better as well, and that may be due to kitchen scraps. I’ve included photos of tomatoes in the big bed and from the vermi-bed, from the same flat, planted the same day with my garden shears for perspective.
The garden that I labeled the vermi-bed is the one I built differently. It’s layered from the bottom up with cardboard, manure, sod then grass clippings and straw. The sod introduced soil into the mix, and I think that the complex ecosystem in the soil has helped the plants alot. I had torn up the sod into small bits, so it didn’t really form any kind of barrier. I did get some perenial weeds sneaking up here and there, and I’ve come up with a strategy to eliminate them in the fall.
Then there’s the compost ecosystem bed. Now I haven’t added enough material to have an exploding worm population at all, so I can’t give them credit…yet. I have however been adding maybe 3 pounds of kitchen scraps a week in the form of home made manure between the plants, pulling up straw, depositing, then recovering. I also do this with the vermi-bed. Even without redworms, something’s been taking care of it all, as by the time I get back where I started, the home made manure is pretty much compost. I think that maybe the native soil dwelling worms may be coming up to eat. There are alot of them in the soil here.
Here’s also some pictures of a bed under our apple tree that my wife helped me build. My sister gave me more pansies than I knew what to do with so in they went. We built this with cardboard, fresh green weeds with no seeds, some nearly finished compost that had some of that sod in it, and topped with some dried grass clippings. I had cut this bed out of the sod last year and planted some irises in there, but it quickly became overrun with weeds. You couldn’t even see the irises! Much better don’t you think?
So in conclusion, I think SOME soil is a good idea in our layered gardens. It made a big difference in nutrition to my tomatoes and in how much water these gardens need. I also think that over time this will be less of an issue. Each fall I plan on adding more material to each bed: Dead leaves, grass, fallen apples, more kitchen scraps, garden waste of all kinds. That should make these beds more fertile each year. Also the action of the redworms and native soil worms should basically till the beds for me, mixing them well.
Til next time!