Hate To Mow The lawn And Dig In Bad Soil?
If this describes you and you love growing Brugmansia, I have a solution for you called Lasagna Gardening.
It certainly will reduce the effort you expend once you have it made and are using it.
The best time to start this type of garden is in the fall but you need to decide earlier in the year that you are going to build it so you can assemble the materials you will need. (I.E. grass clippings,garden waste, finished compost, fallen leaves, straw, newspaper/cardboard.)
To build a garden that supplies adequate nutrition, holds moisture well and lessens your work for planting and digging your Brugmansia/Datura.
To make an economical garden in a location to suit growing your plants.
1-Newspaper and/or cardboard
2-A source of nitrogen ( semi composted grass clippings, semi composted garden waste, chopped corn stalks/husks, green kitchen waste
3-Finished compost or old manure or mushroom compost
4-(optional) some type of soil ( loam, top soil, triple mix etc.)
Choose your location
Before you even start to build your Lasagna garden, decide where you will get the best light for the needs of your plants. Remember that Brugmansia prefer morning light or later afternoon light and tend to wilt in the hot noon time sun. (If you are planting a large number fairly close together however, as they grow, they will shade each other as the sun moves across the sky and the noon time sun was not a big issue for me nor did it cause much wilting.)
You may choose to use an herbicide to kill your grass in the area you are making your bed but it is not necessary if you follow these steps.
Lay several thickness of newspaper on top of the grass (6 layers minimum) OR 2 layers of a thick cardboard. Completely cover the grass and once laid, wet it down well with water. This will hold it in place and promote good contact with the grass thereby helping to smother it.
Build a layer of 4"-6" of the grass clippings you have saved over the season, (they can still be semi green and do not have to be totally composted) wet this down too.
Add a layer of fallen leaves and or chopped up straw to a depth of 15 inches. you may wish to now enclose this area to help hold this lighter material in place over the winter. Now leave it alone until spring. The rain and/or snow will keep it moist, the earthworms will move in and help all the material to decompose.
(If you live in a zone that does not have winter, you may wish to add a light 2" layer of soil at this time and you will have to keep the entire bed damp if you are short of rainfall.)
When it comes time to plant in the spring, add any finished compost, mushroom compost, good soil you have to the top of the bed. (If the plants have been in pots, the soil around the root balls is really sufficient and you can just plant them in the bed without adding any extra soil.
Each summer, add your lawn clippings to the top of your bed, they will not only work as a mulch but will add nitrogen to the bed. Each fall, add as many fallen leaves as you can gather. Each spring add finished manure or mushroom compost or your own finished compost.
You may wish to have the PH of your soil tested, and you may have to add the necessary ingredients to reduce or increase the PH.
If you know the growth habits of your Brugmansia, be sure to plant the fastest growing ones on the north side and the slowest ones on the south side of your garden.
Once your garden is planted, lay soaker/drip hoses that snake around and through your plants. The composition of your Lasagna Garden is such that you will only need to water it once a day or every other day for about 90 minutes at a low drip rate pressure.
You will still need to fertilize your plants minimally, but this type of garden reduces the amount of inorganic (added) fertilizer needed to give good growth and plant performance.
It is not necessary, but you may wish to turn your garden, using the double digging method or using a rototiller, once a year in the spring, to mix the layer of leaves you added in the fall down deeper into the bed.
-Once you have finished building your garden the first fall as I have suggested, by spring it will have reduced from about a depth of 22" to a depth of 10" over the winter.
-The bed/soil is remarkably light and airy.
-Your Brugmansia are easy to plant in the spring and extremely easy to dig up in the fall.
-Their root systems will send good 'holding' roots down into the compacted soil/old lawn that you have built your garden on, but as well, the plants prefer to send their mainly fibrous roots out wide into the light soil you have developed for them, these are the main ones for taking up moisture and nutrients for the plant.
-You will use less water and water less frequently.
-You will need less fertilizer to get the same or better results of good growth, healthy plants and nice blooms.
I have used this type of garden, 12'X12', for the last 2 complete growing seasons for my Brugmansia.
I live in Zone 5 and the summer of 2003 I collected mine and my neighbours grass clippings , simply piling them at the back of the yard.
When fall came, I chose my full sun location and got started. I smothered the grass with the newspaper, wet it down, added the grass clippings to a depth of 6" and watered well. Then over the fall I added the leaves and when the snow started, the garden was 24" high.
I left it 'as was' over the winter, never turning or mixing it. In April I added a 4" layer of mushroom compost.
In June of 2004, I simply popped 35 or so Brugmansia out of their pots, once they had hardened off, into the bed that had now reduced to a total depth of about 12 inches and spaced them about 2' apart. These plants had been cut back to 6-10" stocks the prior fall and had only just started to sprout once again.I added 3 soaker hoses around the bases of the plants. I was uncertain if they would tolerate the full sun so added a few Castor Beans so their large leaves would give strategic shade if need be. It turned out that the Brugs shaded themselves.
By July 15th they now looked like this.
The Brugs grew to varying heights between 5' and 11' over the summer. I had back trouble all summer and only gave this bed 3 doses of a 20-20-20 water soluble fertilizer the entire growing season, I added grass clippings to the bed all summer and only watered by the soaker hoses about 1 1/2 hours on a slow drip the days it did not rain.
At the end of the season I cut back the plants and potted them up again to go back into the GH. They lifted amazingly easily, good thing to because I ended up having back surgery at the beginning of September. This is what the bed looked like once I had nearly all the plants cut back and some dug up in the fall.
I added another 15" of leaves and an old bale of straw in the fall and weighed them down with the Brugmansia material I had cut off. It sat like this all winter.
I the spring this year I did rototill this bed for the first time.
June 1st it was planted again with the cut back Brugs about 2' apart. By June 26th the garden looked like this.
By July 11th it looked like this.
By Aug 23rd I could no longer capture the entire bed in one angle.
The Brugs grew to be anywhere from 5', to the tallest that reached 10'-12 feet.
Once again this summer I put all my grass clippings on this bed and this fall I will add any finished compost I have, as well as my leaves. Most of the plant cuttings have been added to the garden again and the plants were very easily dug up to be potted.
I would highly recommend this type of garden. If I can grow a 10" seeding started April 20th to a 10' plant by Oct 22nd in my Zone 5, I think you will agree with me.
From seed to this size in 6 months.