Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Making Lasagna in a Cold Frame

I've been wanting more raised beds in the front yard.  I also recently mentioned my desire for a small cold frame.  So Paul went through our scrap pile of lumber, dug out the old shower door from underneath a heap of other "future" project materials, got the saw and drill out and made me this handy-dandy little cold frame over the weekend:
Paul was going to hinge the glass door onto the framework, but I asked him not to.  I wanted to be able to take it off during the warmer months and not have to worry about propping the glass up (seemed like an accident waiting to happen with a 3-year old around).  When the plants no longer need the warmth, I'll just put the glass away until Fall. 

Now I had my little raised bed framework and glass top, but I didn't have anything resembling dirt to put into the bed.  Since I haven't yet managed to get enough "dirt" from various locations around the homestead, I decided that this would be a perfect opportunity to try my hand at Lasagna Gardening.  

I put down about six inches of leaves and liberally watered it; my theory being that instead of using cardboard or newspaper (which I didn't have any of) the wet mat of leaves will smother the sod underneath.  Then I put down about 6-8" of wasted hay and watered that down.  

In the next few days, I'll haul some old manure from Ms. Melman & Nugget's pasture and put it in there with another topping of wasted hay, then some goat berries, then finish it off with some semi-finished compost.  Unfortunately I don't have any green stuff to put in the beds, so I'm wondering if I should add anything in lieu of the "live" stuff.

I won't be planting anything in the "lasagna" layers yet, but will be putting containers filled with soil inside the cold frame and planting in those.  As the materials compress, I'll add more layers.

I'm hoping that by fall the lasagna layers will be nice enough to plant some spinach, lettuce and other cool weather leafy veggies in.  Then I'll drag out the glass top again and use it as my cold frame.


  1. I think that over time your method will prove very smart! If you aren't planting in it for awhile, layer away! If you have grass clippings those would be good too...

  2. If you can get alfalfa stalks (I end up with some that the goats won't finish) and mix them in, I have heard they do a fantastic job of attracting worms. :) Let the worms do the work! :)

  3. I love this idea and the repurposed raised frame is ingenious!!


  4. As Erin suggested, I was going to say grass clippings as soon as you have them. They decay super-fast and will great for building "soil."

    P.S. Maybe Tom would put a handful of his worms in an envelope and send them to you for starters. (Hee-hee.)

  5. Until the grass starts growing again, just add some green from your own kitchen waste~I use a lot of old lettuce (which I always seem to have lurking about the back of the fridge), crushed eggshells, banana peels, etc...just chop (or crush) it up real fine and use it until you have grass clippings. Just be careful with the hay~we did that one year and had a garden full of grass from the seeds that were still in the mix! Finding our lettuce was like looking for Waldo. ;)

  6. Nicely made cold frame! Should work well for starting plants until this fall!

  7. I love repurposing! Nice job on the coldframe. I agree with all of the above - you can find "green" stuff everywhere. Pretty soon you'll have a nice crumbly lasagna!

  8. Erin, I'm hoping that it does well, because honestly, I've been wanting to "Lasagna" a large area and hoped this would get me motivated.

    Chara, no alfalfa around here, but I'm going to put up a "Worms Welcome" sign an hope that helps.

    Humble Wife, we try to use recycled materials as much as possible. We're cheap AND eco-friendly! :)

    Mama Pea, I WISH we had something green to cut! Then when we DO have something to cut, I'll be complaining about HAVING to cut the stuff! Hmmm, worms in an envelope. Can you say "Squishy"? :)

    Kim, all the green stuff goes to the chickens....I think they would be upset if they found out I was just "throwing it out"! And I made the same mistake of putting down wasted hay for "mulch" on my raspberry garden one year. There was SOOOOO much grass growing up, I just gave in & waited until fall to destroy it. I guess I should put another heavy & wet layer of leaves right over the hay in order to discourage the seeds from growing, then continue with other stuff.

    Candy C., Thanks!! I love seeing new garden beds out there!

    Susan, Recycle till ya' puke!! :) Can't wait for the lasagna to work!

  9. OOOOOOO You have inspired me! I have wanted to build a cold frame for many years now, and I even have the glass which I salvaged from an old sliding glass door... but the part that has always stopped me was trying to figure out how to attach it to the top with a hinge. It honestly never occurred to me that maybe I didn't have to attach it.

    In terms of your lasagna... I think the main point of the green stuff is for nitrogen, and since you've got manure I think you'll be OK. Adding some grass clippings once they're available wouldn't hurt, but in my experience composting is not really an exact science.

  10. Lasagna gardening works great! We have bought used plastic shower doors from recycling places. You might consider that, or plexiglass for your cover, both work great...

  11. We love our cold frame...we already have lettuce and spinach before any of our friends have even planted...We lasagna-ed ours on the deck and with the glass storm window, it cooked down quickly.