PDC Day 3

Post date: Jul 28, 2014

On Sunday we had our 3rd Day of the PDC and explored Methods of Design. Our 4th session was something practical and Radha came along to demonstrate and talk about a gardening technique she learnt on her PDC about 15 years ago; Sheet mulch garden creation or lasagne garden creation.

The lads got 3 railway sleepers, cut one in half, notched the corners, and made a box (this is not always necessary, but it fits in with the rest of the plots, and will hold the soil created inside).

Here is the process of the lasagne installation. Add ash straight on to undisturbed grass/whatever area you're using (and food waste if you have some):

Add cardboard (or thick, wet newspaper) to exclude light from grass/weeds *(water each layer added):

Add old plants, prunings, plus any animal manures you can (we added horse with sawdust, pig with grass, and fresh cow pats) as well as any other organic materials at hand (try get one legume in there if you can). Basically, go "green brown, green brown/nitrogen carbon, nitrogen carbon" - this really is "in situ compost creation" that will become soil:

Mulch on top of a layer of newspaper (about 6 sheets thick).Then get a narrow trowel and dig holes in where you want to plant seedlings. If you have soaked your newspapers well, you will poke a hole through quite nicely. Fill the hole with compost and plant. The hay around each seedling will protect from frost, wind, too much sun, and keep in the moisture (as do all the layers). Final watering with a little worm juice added and its complete! [just over 1 hour]

From our discussion afterwards:

Many people will add sticks and small branches after the ash is added in the beginning. This holds moisture and provides yet another niche for certain microbiology to thrive.

If you plan well, grow a legume crop just before you do this, and they become the first green layer; full of nitrogen.

Biochar is a useful additive.

Compost tea could be watered in at some point.

After a year this kind of garden bed will sink down, don't dig - just do the layers straight on top again.

These beds will need a lot less watering in Summer than most other types - Radha says about twice a month for her's. The top may become very dry, but down where the roots go into all the layers, it will be moist.

Thank you Radha !