November 2012

Dig in now (or not) for new garden beds next spring


One of the best things to do in fall and early winter is to make new garden beds.

The bed can be dug now, then piled high with organic matter. The additives decompose all winter, working their way into the newly dug bed to create a great planting place next spring. Here are three ways prepare a new bed.

Digging method

  • Remove grass and weeds.
  • Dig the bed 12 to 15 inches deep, turning the soil.
  • Apply several inches of compost or rotted manure and let the bed rest through winter.

Double-dig method

  • Dig a trench about 12 inches wide and the depth of the shovel or spade, moving soil into a wheelbarrow.
  • Loosen the soil another 10 to 12 inches deep with a garden fork.
  • Add a layer of organic matter, such as chopped leaves, compost or rotted manure.
  • Dig a trench parallel to the first one. Spread the soil dug from the second trench onto the first.
  • Add a layer of organic matter to the second trench.
  • Repeat this process until you get to the last trench. Once the organic matter has been applied, spread the soil from the first trench to the last one.

Layering method

There’s no digging or tilling and it’s incredibly easy. It is promoted by Patricia Lanza, author of the best-selling, award-winning book Lasagna Gardening.

  • Place a layer of five sheets of newspaper or a single layer of cardboard over the area of the new bed and wet it down. No need to remove grass or weeds because the paper or cardboard will smother those plants.
  • Apply alternate layers of shredded leaves, compost, rotted manure, kitchen scraps, shredded newspapers, untreated grass clipping, top soil and other green or brown organic matter, building to about 12 inches high.
  • In spring, top off with a couple inches of compost and plant away.


At INPAWS conference: It’s All About the Plants

November 3, 2012
8:00 AMto5:00 PM

The Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society announces its 19th annual conference providing the know-how to help Hoosiers appreciate, grow and conserve Indiana’s rich heritage of native plants.

Set for Nov. 3, 2012 on the University of Indianapolis campus, the daylong conference will focus on two basics of botany: the identification of plants and their occurrence in nature.

“The better we can identify native plants, the better we can be advocates for them,” says Mike Homoya, state botanist/plant ecologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, who had a hand in developing this year’s conference theme.

Among the featured speakers is Rob Naczi, one of the leading botanists in the world. Naczi is the Arthur J. Cronquist Curator of North American Botany at The New York Botanical Garden and is revising one of the most commonly used guides to our North American flora, Manual of Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada.

Also on the program are James Locklear, Director of Conservation at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, Nebraska, who has just written the book Phlox: A Natural History and Gardener’s Guide; Paul Rothrock, an expert on sedges and chairman of the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at Taylor University; Sally Weeks, author of Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest; Kay Yatskievych of the Missouri Botanical Garden, who is coauthoring the Indiana Vascular Plants Catalogue; and Mike Homoya, author of Wildflowers and Ferns of Indiana Forests and Orchids of Indiana.

The conference will include a book signing and sale, vendor and youth education displays, and information on the Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society. Also rumored to be possible is a visit by the renowned Charles Deam, Indiana’s first state forester.

What: It’s All About the Plants, 19th annual Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society conference.

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012

Where: Schwitzer Student Center, University of Indianapolis

Admission/registration: open to the public. Non-members, $75 ($65 before Oct. 25, 2012); students, $35; INPAWS members, $60 ($50 before Oct. 25, 2012).

For more info: Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society,