Erin White
Photo: Christy White
There's something about living in a studio apartment in Chicago that makes the Iowa farm girl in me long for some green space and my own little plot of land. Don't get me wrong—I love my adopted city and living around the corner from dozens of shops, restaurants and exciting nightlife. But the more years I spend living an urban lifestyle—where pavement and tall buildings rule the land—the more I find myself browsing books about gardening and questioning vendors at the local farmers' market about their methods.

Finally, in spring 2008, I gave in to my urge to sink my hands into some soil and approached my parents about starting a garden on their Iowa corn and soybean farm, where I grew up and where they've lived for more than 30 years. "Gardens are a lot of work," my mom said. "[And] who is going to weed and water it?" My dad's response was nothing less than fatalistic. "Most gardens don't make it that first year," he said. "And your mom is right—gardens are a lot of work."

Just as I was about to file away my idea of having a garden on my parents' farm, I came across the book The Green Gardener's Guide by Joe Lamp'l. Joe writes about a method of gardening developed by Patricia Lanza that involves no tilling, no weeding, little maintenance and, best of all, is organic! It's called lasagna gardening, and it became the means to unlock my gardening dreams.

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