Sustainable West Seattle digs into natural gardening

Story and photo by Keri DeTore
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

Sustainable West Seattle is taking a new approach to its monthly member meetings by focusing on a particular theme each quarter. Last night kicked off this quarter’s “gardening with nature” theme with a focus on soils.

Due to our region’s glaciated geological history, our soils can be challenging to work in, and often take time, energy and amendments to create an environment where plants can thrive. Stu Hennessey (right) demonstrated the work that has been done at the Community Orchard of West Seattle – site of part of the meeting – to improve the soil, taking it from a compacted lawn to a healthy, nutrient-rich soil supporting edible plants and fruit trees. Much of the resulting produce will be shared with the Delridge Grocery, announced last night as one of three SWS Green Grant Recipients (we reported on the grant recipients here, before last night’s meeting was over).

The healthy soil was created using a method called “layering” which is also known as “lasagna gardening.”

It’s pretty much what it sounds like — laying layers of cardboard or burlap, leaves, manure, compost, grass cuttings, and other organic materials and allowing it all to biodegrade together creating a humus-rich soil on top of the more challenging soil. A handout was provided describing the different layers and their functions so members could begin this soil improvement practice at home.

More information on Lasagna Gardening can be found here:

Attendees were further educated on soil improvement while watching the film “Permaculture Soils” by Geoff Lawton, which demonstrated the use of composting and mulching to enhance and enrich soils using natural materials as a more sustainable choice over stripping and fertilizing soils.

Upcoming Sustainable West Seattle workshops will focus on this natural-gardening theme, with the West Seattle Tool Library hosting a Fixers Collective this Thursday (March 21st) from 6 pm to 9 pm, offering local gardeners the opportunity to sharpen their tools and repair wheelbarrows.

Building on the gardening theme, April’s SWS meeting will focus on garden planning.

In May, the group will spend one day building a garden, what Stu Hennessey calls their “legacy,” in a yet-to-be-determined spot in the community. SWS is currently accepting nominations for a garden installation for a community group, school or church. To nominate a garden site, go to and leave a comment. You can also watch Sustainable West Seattle’s website for more details on their next meeting, Monday, April 15th.

2 Replies to "Sustainable West Seattle digs into natural gardening"

  • Kate K March 20, 2013 (3:29 pm)

    I finally feel like I know enough to create compost. Thanks Stu!

  • Lauren March 27, 2013 (10:12 am)

    Love the term “lasagna gardening” – perfect description and visual image of what to do.

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