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Bal Tashchit in the Garden

Consistent with our Jewish values of Bal Tashchit (The Torah prohibits wasteful destruction) and Sh’mirat Ha-Teva (Protecting Nature—Preserving and protecting our world keeps it safe, healthy and more beautiful; each person can make a difference!), the CABI Climate Justice Task Force continues its efforts to pursue “resilience gardening” to address food insecurity and share ways that we all can reduce/reuse/recycle materials and resources.   

Tending the compost pile is a manifestation of that instinct to take the broken, forgotten, and used-up to transmute the “mundane” into something holy again.  

From the microbes to the plants to the people who pick and prepare our food, there are many partners in creation, helping us to create a "new earth”... following is an example of this cyclical and sacred process:

“Lasagna” Method for Building Garden Soil
In early October, Pettra, Lawrence and Jill of the CABI Climate Justice Task Force prepared two garden beds at the CABI garden to demonstrate an organic and no-till method for improving soil. It’s called “Lasagna” because it involves multiple layers of organic material. 

The Steps: 
Each layer should be thoroughly soaked with water before moving on to the next step.

  1. First we cut down all the weeds in the bed and laid them down flat on the soil. Rather than toss these away, they become nutrients. Be sure to cut them at the soil level rather than pull up the roots. Pulling the roots disturbs the soil health. Leaving the roots in place also means that they will break down in the soil and add nutrients.
  2. Next we laid sheets of packing paper all over the beds and then covered them with sheets of cardboard. This smothers the weeds. Be sure to remove all tape from the boxes and don’t use any that have glossy color images or print. You can use newspaper instead of packing paper. 
  3. Next comes the green (nitrogen) layer. We used tomato plant cuttings and grass clippings from our yards. Be sure not to use anything that has been sprayed with a weed killer. We also sprinkled in aged chicken manure (don’t use fresh manurethe layers will get too hot) and some homemade compost.
  4. Then comes the brown (carbon) layer. We used a thick layer of leaves. A basic rule is to make the brown layer 3Xs as thick as the green layer. Leaves are great to use because leaf mold is rich in the kind of bacteria and fungi that builds healthy soil. 
  5. You can repeat these layers multiple times depending on how much material and room you have. We repeated the layers twice and then covered it all over with a layer of straw to help keep in the moisture.
  6. We then covered the two beds with tarps. We will remove those tarps in about 2 weeks so that winter rains and snow can help moisten the beds. 

These beds will sit over the winter and compost in place. In the spring, we will have incredibly fertile soil ready for planting. 
Thank you so much to everyone who donated materials!


October: The planting season is not over yet!  

Check out these resources to keep your garden in action:

Fall Planting Guide from Boise's North End Nursery

Boise's Northend Nursery is our go-to source for local information on all things gardening!

Ron Finley Teaches Gardening 

Ron Finley aka Gangsta Gardener teaches master classes in urban gardening. This pdf provides an overview of climates, microclimates, seasonality, soils, and plant selection.  Invaluable!

Tue, December 5 2023 22 Kislev 5784