The basic principles of 'No Dig' farming & gardening.
You may or may not have heard about 'No Dig' gardening?
I'm often still amazed when I speak to people who have been growing veg for many years and they look at me like I've gone mad!
'What? you don't dig the soil?' they ask with a confused look on their face.
'Yep, that's correct!' I answer, and proceed to explain why I use the no dig system on our farm to their astonishment.
No dig is pretty simple really, the idea is to mimic nature as much as possible. We have been taught over many years to grab that spade and turn the soil before planting, but by doing this you actively encourage those pesky weeds, the roots of perennial weeds and the seeds of annuals to develop and cover the freshly dug ground, as the ground in mother nature is always well covered, just take a look at spaces not touched by man to see for yourself such as verges, under tree's, woodlands etc. The old digging process, however, poses a problem for the gardener, it means heavy back-breaking weeding, and we all know how awful a bad back can be! and the major disruption of the soil structure, every time you turn the soil you wake up the weed seeds and they burst through as if gasping for life!
Whereas when you do not disturb the soil, and you do a no-dig bed, you will see a huge reduction in weed growth, and those that do grow, are caught so easy with a hoe and if left (never do this) they are easy to pull out. Also, the no dig soil bed will now be full of life, including beneficial microbes and organisms which are essential to help our plants find moisture and of course the nutrients they need. According to Charles Dowding (The UK's expert in No dig - check out his website here, it's simply amazing!), the plants from the no-dig beds also convey health to the gardener too by feeding his or her gut biome! So it really is a win-win situation for all.
Whilst the process of creating and growing in a no-dig way is simple, we highly recommend Charles Dowding books and website where he explains exactly what to do, or indeed his Youtube channel, a must-see for any enthusiast.
In the meantime, here are the basics of setting up a no-dig bed.
Choose your space
Lay cardboard or newspaper in the shape of the bed required
Dampen the above thoroughly
Lay well-rotted manure on top of the cardboard to about 6 inches
Top the manure with compost for another 2 inches
Then plant your plants!
Seriously, It's that easy! OK, so there are a few tweaks that can be done if required, and Charles explains various ways of growing veggies in his no-dig beds, so if you are not able to attend our no-dig courses held here at Applewood Acres's, please check him out, you won't be disappointed.
"We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it's our garden that is really nurturing us." -Jenny Uglow
We never dig, in order to maintain soil health, we mulch the ground with 6-8 inches of compost, leaves, straw or topsoil. Above is a good example of no dig beds featuring wood chip walkways.
Forget the back pains from digging and
turning the soil over,!
Bring the fun back into gardening, everyone,
young and old can do a 'No dig' garden.