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Weed it and Reap: Getting Down in the Dirt

Updated: Apr 29

By Victoria Rolfe


Victoria gets down and dirty
Victoria gets down and dirty

It’s time to get out there! Yay! Another season of playing in the dirt!


If you are a new gardener, you will first have to create your garden. For a vegetable plot, your site should get at least six hours (ideally early to mid-afternoon) of sun per day. An ornamental garden may do with less sun, if you don’t have that much in your yard. You can always concentrate on shade-loving plants. The site should be close enough to the house for you to keep an eye on it. It should also be well drained. Do puddles remain in that area for a few days after it rains? If so, it might not be the best area for your garden.



If you are planning to start a new garden, now is the time! Well, actually (for future reference) the ideal time would have been in the fall, but you can still start one now. The easiest way to do this (did I mention that in addition to being a frugal gardener, I am also a lazy gardener?), requires no digging. It is a wonderful method called lasagna gardening, known so for its system of layering materials one on top of the other, as you would in constructing that equally wonderful casserole dish.


How to lasagna garden

If you use this method, you do not even have to dig up the grass. You simply smother it. You start with a layer of cardboard or thick layers of newspapers. Lay them on the ground in the shape you want your new garden bed to be. (Remember, newbies: start small.)


Diagram of lasagna layers
Diagram of lasagna layers

After your newspaper or cardboard layer is in place, wet it down with the garden hose. On top of this, you can add layers of wood chips, shredded leaves, composted manure, compost or garden soil. Especially since you are starting in the spring, just before planting time, your topmost layer should be something very fine, such as garden soil, or very finished, screened compost. That way, you can plant seeds and tender young seedlings into it.


John making (yet another) lasagna bed in our garden. We are addicted, I’m afraid.
John making (yet another) lasagna bed in our garden. We are addicted, I’m afraid.

An additional benefit of this method of creating a garden plot is that you end up with a lovely raised bed. You can surround this with wooden sides if you want, but there is no need to. Your raised garden be will provide drainage to your garden, and also serve to warm the soil more quickly than if it were level with the ground.


So get out there! It’s a great way to get some exercise too! And start dreaming of filling that plot with the richness of what nature has to offer in the coming months. Hopefully, you are well on the way with your little indoor seedlings. Keep caring for them and marveling at their unfolding beauty. Next time we will delve into planting some seeds directly into the ground, and the real fun begins!


Victoria’s lazy lasagna constructed raised bed gardens
Victoria’s lazy lasagna constructed raised bed gardens

Victoria Rolfe has had a love of gardening all her life, from the time she was a tiny child coveting the daffodils growing in her neighbor’s yard (and wondering why she couldn’t have them in her own), to her teenage years when she took her pot experimentation in a different direction by growing the seeds she extracted from the bag into a beautiful marijuana plant on her bedroom windowsill. She went on in her adult years to feed her family by growing a huge and bountiful vegetable garden, as well as beautifying her three-acre property with an array of ornamental trees, bushes and flowers in the magnificent Hudson Valley region of New York.


Victoria learned a great deal in the process of all this plant experimentation. She then added to that knowledge by taking courses with the Cornell Cooperative Extension to become a Master Gardener Volunteer. In her volunteer capacity, she helps to educate the public on gardening through classes and information booths, most notably at the Dutchess County N.Y. Fair each August. Throughout the summer months, Victoria is most likely to be found among the weeds, either in her own garden or those of others who actually pay her to play in their dirt and do the thing she loves best, delight in the magical world of gardening.


Victoria is not only a gardening aficionado; she is also passionate about helping people live a better life on less money. Visit her website and blog at brightfuture2budget4.weebly.com, or email her at brightfuture2budget4@gmail.com.




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