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Growing pizza vegies in a lasagna garden

No digging, No tilling, No weeding, No kidding!

Using the layered lasagna method, you can plant peppers, onions and tomatoes and when fully grown, use the veggies on your own hand-made pizza!

Sharon Burch, teacher at W.F. Burns-Oak Hill Elementary described this adventure with her first grade class...

Sharon Burch shows Brianna and Brendan how to make the lasagna layers.

Burch observes as Alexus, Savannah, Andrew and Dynah work in their pizza garden.

Petra and Bobby check out their very first tomato.

“My most successful activity with newspapers in the classroom was creating group gardens using the technique called Lasagna Gardening which requires layering newspapers, peat moss, mulch, and organic materials. I first read of it in an article by Dinah Pulver in The Daytona Beach News Journal one Sunday and thought it would be an excellent way to turn the sandpile in front of our classroom into a garden.

The first graders learned the processes and concepts related to gardening and recycling and to master tha related Sunshine State Standards through hands-on activities. The initial activity was a discovery lesson about which materials would keep water from leaking through. Newspaper won!”

Using the layered lasagna method, the students planted peppers, onions and tomatoes outside their classroom. When fully grown, they will use the veggies on their own hand-made pizza!

Lasagna Gardening
No digging, No tilling, No weeding, No kidding!

Environment Writer

NEW SMYRNA BEACH — Last year Donna Clavet worried over the plants in her garden, weeding and watering when the rules allowed, trying to keep her garden alive.

This year Clavet has been worry-free.

The retired hairdresser converted to a gardening phenomenon that is sweeping the nation, or you might say covering the nation -- in layers of peat moss, newspaper and mulch -- lasagna gardening.

“I got so distressed last year, nothing would grow,” says Clavet. Frustrated with the puny vegetables her garden produced, Clavet was reading a magazine on gardening last winter when she came across a blurb about the book Lasagna Gardening (Rodale Press), written by Pat Lanza.

Clavet, an avid gardener whose yard is filled with plants and flowers, ordered the book and was quickly absorbed. Now, she has handwritten notes on its pages and reads it just for fun. “I just sit and study it all the time,” she says.

The results are incredible, she says. Tomato plants taller than 6 feet lie just feet away from zucchini plants that stand 4 high and have been prolific. Clavet says her green beans and other vegetables were a similar success.

“The beans, scallions, everything came up beautifully. I fed the whole neighborhood,” she says. “There are just no weeds, that´s what I love about it.”

The flowers are equally wonderful, she says, blooming prolifically.

She says she owes it all to the layered beds she built following the directions in Lanza´s book. The layering system requires no bordering rocks or boards, just lots of old newspapers, peat moss, mulch and compost -- or whatever organic materials you happen to have laying around.

The newspapers are soaked in water and then layered on the ground with overlapping edges. Then they´re covered with layers of peat moss, hay, manure, mulch and grass clippings. The newspapers allow the beds to be built even on top of grass and prevents the grass and weeds from pushing through into the beds.

As far as Clavet is concerned, one beauty of the system is the way it holds moisture and requires less water.

While it sounds time consuming, Clavet says she built her first bed in less than an hour.

“You just have to have all your materials in one place ready to go,” she says. Now she has three beds and plans two more. To share her excitement, Clavet started a gardening journal to give to her granddaughter. “So she´ll have something to know how much I enjoyed it.”

She also is helping a neighbor and another friend put in beds. One neighbor borrowed the book, but then decided to buy her own copy so she could keep referring back to it.

No one has been more surprised by the book´s success than Lanza. More than a half a million copies of the book have been sold since it was published in 1998.

“It´s just too hard to believe,” she said. It continually amazes her that people “are actually taking their hard-earned money and buying this book.”

“Then they´re glad they did,” she said. And that, she says, is what has made it so rewarding for her. “People like the idea of re-using all this material and they like the idea of saving all this time.”

Lanza happened upon her layering method out of desperation, when she didn´t have time to garden but wanted fresh herbs for the café and gardening shop she owns in southern New York state. “I knew I had to find a way to do this that wasn´t time consuming,” she says. “It had to be something I could do by myself, that didn´t require machinery, because I´m rpm challenged.”

Now she has every square inch of the yard at her business filled with lasagna gardens and has 16 beds at her vacation home, which she visits only weekly. The layers are the key to the whole thing, she says. She started referring to it as lasagna gardening when she was trying to capture the attention of a group of garden club members while giving a lecture.

Change the way you mow and rake and don´t be shy about using the neighbors´ clippings and leaves, she says. A neighbor of hers bags up every clipping, and sets them beside the curb for the garbage truck. She picks up the bags and takes them to her yard.

Grass clippings and leaves are your biggest resource, Lanza says.

“You just have to change the way you feel about waste,” she says. “You just put it on the garden and let nature do it because the earthworms will turn it.”

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