When most people think of lasagna they envision a hot dish of noodles, tomato sauce, and piping hot melted cheese. Probably the last thing on most people’s minds when they think of lasagna is compost.
In order to learn about lasagna composting, you must switch your mindset from thinking of a yummy Italian meal to thinking about the method by which lasagna is put together – – and then applying that method to putting together a compost pile.
Lasagna composting is one of the easiest composting techniques around, and it can be successfully accomplished by just about anyone. Just as with preparing actual lasagna that you would eat, lasagna compost is a simple project to undertake as long as you include a loose variation in the correct type of ingredients. Besides its simplicity, lasagna composting is achievable in almost any location – including sloped, dry, and rocky areas!
Following are Six Simple Steps to Creating Lasagna Compost:
- Determine where you want your lasagna compost to be located – it’s easiest to designate a square or rectangle area, but the shape is ultimately up to you. Once you’ve allocated a space, prepare the area by clearing away as much grass and weeds as you can. It is up to you whether or not to put a frame or a visible perimeter around the area.
- Using old newspaper as your first layer of lasagna (e.g. the “noodles”), cover the entire designated composting area with four or five layers. Your goal should be to create a barrier, so make sure to overlap the edges so grass and weeds cannot easily poke through. Once in place, wet the newspaper pieces until they are soaked – but be careful to not break or rip the newspapers as you wet them.
- The second layer of your lasagna (e.g. the “cheese”) is next. Spread a layer of yard waste such as old leaves over the layer of newspaper. You can also add chopped pieces of cardboard, shredded paper towel and toilet paper tubes, egg cartons, shredded non-shiny paper, straw, hay – – and anything that is considered a “brown” ingredient. Brown elements are generally anything organic that is high in carbon. Once the brown layer is in place, add a layer of moisture – but don’t flood it.
- The final layer (e.g. the “meat”) should be added on top of the brown ingredients. The top layer should consist of “green” material that is rich in nitrogen. Examples of what should be used are: fresh grass clippings, remains from fruits and vegetables, bread and grain products, tea bags, coffee grounds, coffee filters, dryer lint, or manure/droppings from any vegetarian-fed pets/animals.
- Repeat the layers several times until the pile is between two and three feet high. Don’t forget to add moisture/water after each layer! The top layer should be a “brown” layer because this will help discourage any/all types of pests that might like to feed or lay eggs in the compost pile.
- Allow your lasagna compost to sit for several months. Over time, you will notice the pile will shrink in height. Don’t touch the pile until it is ready! In about six months, add a layer of topsoil over the compost lasagna. And, voila – – you now have a nutrient-rich garden area ready for planting!
Helpful tips to keep in mind:
- A lasagna compost pile can be built over the winter so the area will be ready for planting in the spring!
- Use your Green Cycler to create optimal shredded green material for your compost lasagna!
- Don’t worry about the exact ratio of greens:browns or carbons:nitrogens. Remember: “Compost Happens!” and it’s really hard to NOT be successful at lasagna composting!