Thursday, November 17, 2016

Completing the Rocking Horse Journal Cover (and explaining a lasagna garden)

Before we begin my art today I want to quote part of a post from May, 2015:
I've talked about lasagna gardening for so long, it surprised me that no one knew what I was talking about.  So, before we look at the flower bed my rocking horse journal cover, I'll explain what a lasagna garden is.  It has nothing to do with what is grown in the garden, but how you build up and add layers of organic material that will "cook down" over time.  Some call it sheet composting, but I like lasagna better.  Think of it as a compost pile that is the size of your garden plot.

The benefits are huge, in that you don't have to dig or till, and weeds are practically non-existent.   You begin by laying down a layer of cardboard and/or several layers of newspaper that you wet as you go.  Be sure each layer is completely saturated before you go to the next layer.  Think of it as the sauce between layers of lasagna.

Now it's time to add your green layer, which is anything you might add to a compost pile, such as fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds, tea leaves and bags, and grass clippings.  Be sure this layer is completely wet before adding your brown layer.

The brown layer consists of hay, straw, pine needles, shredded junk mail, shredded newspapers, and leaves.  Wet completely and start over again.  This time, forget the cardboard, but add newspapers and manure (if you have it) before adding your green layer.  Then add your brown layer.  Do this as many times as you have sufficient fodder.  Your brown layer ideally should be twice as tall as your green layer, but don't let that stop you. This isn't rocket science.

When you get ready to plant, there will be few, if any, weeds because the cardboard and newspaper killed any grass that was underneath, while the mulch you have created from above keeps other weeds at bay.  You will water less because the composted soil/material holds the water better.  You will never need to fertilize as long as you maintain the organic layers, which will soon turn into compost.

Now you know what a lasagna garden is.  It's the only way to garden, in my opinion, but the limited amount of organic material I can get hold of each year has kept me from having the garden I truly want.
And this is what I wrote way back in April, 2010:
For those of you new to my blog, here's what my garden looked like last fall when I put it to bed. I began by soaking a ton of newspapers I collected from my friends. If you don't have access to friends with newspapers, you can always find these at recycling centers, along with cardboard, which is equally good. The newspapers keep weeds to a minimum and adds organic matter to the soil as it decomposes. Be sure you get rid of any slick inserts or ads from your newspapers. These don't decompose well because there is some kind of plastic coating that prevents rapid decay.

Wet and soak, soak and wet. When dripping wet, you are ready to proceed. Although most people in the know lay down a layer of peat moss over the wet newspapers, I have never done that. I simply begin laying down organic materials over the newspapers. So what organic materials do I use? Whatever I have on hand, and that's what you should, too. Remember, this is an EARTH MONTH post and recycling is the key.

I layer grass clippings, leaves, and compost in that order. I water well after each layer. Then I begin again with very wet newspapers, grass clippings, leaves, and compost. I lay down whatever wood ash I have from my chiminea, too. If I have sawdust, it goes in between the grass clippings and the leaves. Be sure you water between all layers. If you live by the ocean, you can even use seaweed or kelp. Since I'm landlocked, I don't have access to that resource. All these organic materials are what create a neutral soil pH.

If the bed is new, I recommend covering it with plastic to hold in the moisture and allowing it to cook over the winter months. That's not to say you can't start a bed any time of the year. Just don't expect to grow anything the first year, unless you start in the fall, so your bed has a fighting chance in the spring. And, keep adding layer after layer throughout the year.

Even if your soil has nothing but rocks in it, you can still grow a lasagna garden. And you never have to dig or rototill the soil. Just be sure the place you choose gets full sun much of the day.
Now that you know what a lasagna garden is, feel free to ask questions in the comment section.  I'll answer any you have on YOUR blog, not mine.

Not much to show today because all I managed to accomplish was completing the cover for my rocking horse journal.   Unfortunately, I had a terrible time with my tension.  I'm glad this journal is for me, and not a gift.  This is the outside of the cover.

My large rocking horse that I had removed too soon, then tried to sun dry again, didn't turn out too well, either.

This is the inside of the cover.  The front will hold three pens or pencils, while the back inside cover will hold minutia I will add that holds meaning to me.

My favorite is the rocker on the pocket that holds the minutia.  Although I love all my rocking horses equally, this lacy rocker is my favorite for sun dyeing.

Thank you for joining me today as I finish this second sun dyed cover.  If it hadn't taken so long to complete, I might have been able to do more.  By the time I fought thread breakage, rethreading my needle dozens of times, and messing with my tension more than once, it was one of those days I wanted to throw the project against the wall and walk away.  However, since I had nothing else to share, I gritted my teeth and finished it.  I hope you enjoyed this, because I'm sure I'll laugh about it in a year or three.  Thanks again for your support of my art (and my lasagna garden).

This is Day 17 of AEDM.

18 thoughtful remarks:

Valerie-Jael said...

Thank for explaining about the lasagna garden, sounds like a good way of working. The journal cover has turned out really well, love the colours, and those rocking horses look good. Hugs, Valerie

Elephant's Child said...

Love your lacy rocker.
I garden on similar principles. Not well enough though, the weeds are thriving.

chrissie said...

Very interesting post about your garden layers. My husband always used that method on his allotment until my daughter got stables and horses then it was good old horse manure he used.

Love the cover for your rocking horse journal and great to see how it was made.

Love Chrissie xx

Nicola said...

I really like the idea of a lasagna garden. I love to cook and I have in recent years spent a lot more time in the garden (I don't have green fingers but I try). So, next year, when the ground is soft enough again to play with, I'll give the lasagna garden a try. Thank you for sharing. The artwork is lovely :)

My name is Erika. said...

I love your fabric results both yesterday and today. How fun. Its gotten too cold and even a bit dark for me to do any outside dying, which is rather sad, so I put all the materials away on a shelf. I think you have a perfect journal cover. I hope you make something special in it. :)But I think you will.And I loved reading about the lasagna garden. I should go out and do that to my veggie garden this weekend. I am hoping maybe to get a little yard clean up time since it is suppose to be sunny and on the warmer side Saturday. Hope all is well. Hugs-Erika

Fiona@Staring at the Sea said...

The sun dyed rocking horse is beautiful. Love the lacy effect and such gorgeous colours. I'm sure you've already tried this, but have you changed the needle? Sometimes that effects the tension if it's slightly bent, which isn't always apparent to the naked eye. Not to my middle aged ones anyway!

Meggymay said...

The journal cover is beautiful and It must mean a lot to you to have your favurite rocking horses shown in this creative project. Love the dye colours of the background , really cheerful to see, on a dull English day.
Yvonne xx

Sami said...

I like your lacy rocking horse too.
Thanks for taking the trouble to explain the lasagna garden Elizabeth. I've copied the process as it's something I could do in my garden as Perth's soil is basically sand. Although my husband is always digging in all our kitchen scraps and parts of our garden already have good soil.

froebelsternchen Susi said...

That sounds really good with your gardening -
I am way to lazy and need more love for gardening at all I guess! We have a very old garden - two big apple trees and not much sunny beds in it - so herbs and veggies don't feel so well here--we got quite an amount of tomatoes the first year but I didn't plant any veggies since then.
I gave some herbs a chance in the more sunny area and with the second bed that is just semi-shaded I had luck with some plants this year as well... so I am quite happy- a little sad about not having my own veggie..but it's o.k..
You are very busy and hard-working for your paradise - well done!
I love the colors of this cover-- it will turn out super I guess!

oxo Susi

CJ Kennedy said...

Dropped by from Sandra's Blog. Enjoyed my visit and plan to stop by again. Just telling Himself about your lasagna garden technnique. He tried planting in straw bales this year.

froebelsternchen Susi said...

I found out now that here they call this kind of gardening and making beds " Permakultur "..
Thank you for sharing this organic techniques dear Elizabeth

Sandra Cox said...

Love the lacy riding horse!
If you have an opportunity pit stop by today:)

Birgit said...

I found you through Sandra and what a great blog you have! My hubby does all the gardening but I will tell him about your lasagna garden. I love your journal cover! I create cards and talk movies and I am finally trying my hand at a journal I wish to give to my friend for Christmas. I think the rocking horses turned out well. We are always too picky:)

Sandra Cox said...

PS Thanks for the info on lasagna gardening....very helpful.

Jeanie said...

Thanks for explaining in more detail. I was a little confused. That's a huge amount of work but it sure sounds like the benefits pay off!

Congratulations on being featured on Sandra's blog today. And I love your journal cover. My favorite colors!

Linda Kunsman said...

Well, now I have to ask my neighbor ( who is the main gardener for our shared crop)if she heard the term "lasagne gardening" because that is what she does with the garden soil-and she is an excellent cook as well:) Thanks for sharing. Your fabric looks beautiful and a special theme only makes it that much better!

Gibby Frogett said...

I think your journal cover turned out really lovely Elizabeth.
Lasagne gardening made me smile, but thats a great way to describe what you are doing. Great information and tips and I have bookmarked this to refer back to - thanks.
Gill x

sheila 77 said...

Your rocking horse journal looks great, Elizabeth. As for problems with tension, we all have that from time to time, and at college we were encouraged to produce "artistic" tension. That brings me on to something I've been meaning to say - you said you could not do free-machining because your feed-dogs didn't go down - did you know it doesn't matter? I do lots of free-machine embroidery with my old Singer where the feed dogs do not go down, I turn the stitch length to zero and cover the feed dogs (you can do this with an old credit card for example). Some people say you don't even need to cover them. I also use a free-machining foot to kind of protect my fingers but you don't have to if you are very very careful. I looked up the web and there is quite a lot on this. Hope this helps.