Building a No Dig Garden
The no dig garden is exactly what it describes...a fertile garden bed with no digging at all. It involves layering clean, organic materials that will literally compost around your plants as they grow.
The No Dig Garden is built on top of the ground, so you can build a garden anywhere. This makes it extremely attractive for those sites that have poor soil or are weed infested. It's also a great method of gardening for those who can't (or don't want to) dig a
The site you choose for your garden must get at least 5 hours of sunlight a day. Drainage will be good because of the materials that will be used in making the garden.
If you are planting over lawn or weeds, mow them to ground level. If you are planting on a hard surface, put down some cushioning organic material first (like seaweed or leaves).
To build your no dig garden start with a layer of newspaper (no colour printing), at least 6mm (1/4 inch) thick. Surround the garden with some sort of border material. This can be bricks, logs, planks or rocks but should be at least 20-25CM high (8-10 inches)
to contain the organic material within.
Lay down a layer of lucerne hay leaving no gaps, to a height of 10cm (about 4 inches). Layer some good organic fertilizer on top to a height of 20mm (1 inch). This can be just about any sort of good quality material like chicken, horse, cow or sheep manure.
Add another thick layer of straw to the garden 150mm (6 inches) and another layer of fertilizer and then top it off with a 100mm (4 inches) of compost.
Water the garden until it's soaking and let it settle for a few days before planting.
Seedlings do better than seeds in the no dig garden.
Here's what will happen. The seedlings will get a kick start in the rich, compost top soil. The fertilizer underneath will start the 'composting' of the lucerne hay and straw. The composting will generate heat and biological activity that will really kick along the seedling growth. The roots will further break down the straw and hay and it in turn will become solid enough to support the growing plants.
The newsprint is thick enough to discourage weed growth through the layers, but will deteriorate enough to allow earth worms to chew their way upwards.
Continue to layer mulch, straw and compost as the garden bed matures. Never dig this bed over, just layer more and more material as required. Rotate your crops and add fresh compost regularly.
Your garden bed will deliver consistent, spectacular results season after season.
About the Author
Judy Williams (www.no-dig-vegetablegarden.com) is working hard to become a fulltime earth mother goddess. This site acts as a primer for all vegetable gardening aspects covering topics like how to build a garden, nurture seedlings, container gardening and composting.