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leafy lasagna lettuce

August 11, 2012 Gotalottie, Tips No Comments
lettuce - doing well on grass clippings

There’s no doubts that the lasagna approach is successful.

We added approximately 35cms of material to raised bed numbers 1 and 2 at the outset: Brown, green, brown, green with a generous layer of shredded paper and plenty of worms; each layer was gently watered in.

We planted same day: well-rooted dahlias and lettuce transplants; each plant was bedded in with a very small amount of compost just enough to stop the plants from making direct contact with the lasagne material in order to stop any burning of roots or stems.

For bed number 1 – that was 5 weeks ago. The temperature of the bed went up quite quickly and was possibly making in the region of 35-40C inside the pile for a few days and the bed depth rapidly dropped to approximately 20cms. We then had quite a lot of rain and this cooled things down and caused the bed to shrink further. The growth on the lettuce has been phenomenal, I honestly cannot recall ever seeing such fast growth and the colour and condition of the plants is superb. Slug damage has been minimal and this has now ceased.

lettuce - doing well on grass clippings

lettuce – doing well on grass clippings

 

But..

The problems though, are that the beds have shrunk a lot and there are a lot of gaps at the sides where the material has shrunk away from the wooden sides. This poses 2 immediate problems of: the potential to harbour pests and the failure of the bed to completely smother ground weeds (which were left in place).

Aesthetically, the bed surface looks a mess and while it could be argued that this is largely only cosmetic, it is not what we wished to achieve.

So we decided to mulch over lasagna bed number 2 with 15cms of compost which brings the level up to the top of the raised bed and solves all of the problems described.

We’ll leave lasagna bed number 1 intact as a benchmark. The material is currently 10cms thick and is composting. The temperature of the bed is approximately 25C with daytime air temperatures between 18 and 23C. The smell is quite sweet and composting appears to be aerobic.

A lot of comments are made about the health of the plants in the bed. It is difficult to imagine that all of this is being achieved in just 4 inches of rotting grass, straw and paper.

For plot 36, this is not going to be a viable solution. There is possibly insufficient depth and this may let in sufficient light to trigger the re-growth of Horsetail. The current strategy of creating nutrient rich, semi-vermicompost beds appears to be the correct approach. The oriental lettuce transplanted 3 weeks ago in the new beds is making vigorous growth and appears to match or even exceed the growth in the pure lasagna bed.

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