Making A No-Dig Garden
With the help of my friend Nick, an excellent organic gardener, we created a series of ‘no-dig' garden beds in our garden. Making 'no dig' garden beds is a simple process which can then be planted straight away to yield healthy plants.
My history of gardening has had good intentions but a little cowgirl to say the least. It usually consisted of a trip to the market for some seedlings which are then planted into rock hard soil and watered when I remember... The result, well, not that great, except the hardy herbs which seem to thrive in rough conditions. So to be shown the ease of a no-dig garden that creates healthy, fertile soil by layering garden matter and nutrients seemed like a good idea. So here is how we made it. It is like a recipe really, layer a bit of this and bit of that and sprinkle with...
Makes 2 largish beds roughly 1 metre x 4 metres
- Small sticks and stalks
- Newspaper (no glossy pages, only newsprint) and/ or;
- Cardboard, flattened and cellotape removed (try you local supermarket)
- 2 bales pea straw (pea straw is best as it will sprout peas which are great for fixing nitrogen into the garden bed)
- Fertilizer - organic preparation, seaweed and/or manure*
- Green matter (grass clippings and/ or weeds)
- Lots of organic compost (available from garden centres)
Mark out the beds using a spade, breaking up the grass/soil a bit. You can build a box for the bed using boards or bricks, or just build straight on the ground as we did.
Arrange a layer of sticks and stalks on the base. Next cover evenly with over-lapping newspaper and cardboard, about 5mm thick. Spread with pads of pea straw and sprinkle with fertilizer and green matter, and cover with a 5mm layer of compost. Arrange another layer of straw (it's a bit like making lasagna) evenly over the bed.
Make nests in the straw and fill with compost, at least 5mm deep and 10mm wide. Plant the nests with seedlings making sure they are adequately spaced for plant size and growth rate.
- Rather than planting a row of all the same vegetable, intersperse the seedlings. This helps reduce pest damage as plants work as companions so to deter pests.
- Plant smaller plants such as lettuces and herbs at the front of the bed so they are easier to harvest and don't get shaded by the bigger plants.
*Collect seaweed from the seashore after a storm. Manure can be bought from garden centres or farm gates (this is the cheaper option - keep your eyes peeled when out on a Sunday drive in the country).