April 25, 2010

No-dig vegetable garden - easy instructions

You will love the idea of no-dig garden! No-dig garden is perfect and fast solution to poor soils and also saves a lot of work. I am constructing now raised bed vegetable garden and no-dig garden philosphy is the part of my idea of lazy gardening. OK, I agree, spreading all materials needed for lasagna layers is hard work too, but at least digging is eliminated. Digging is harder than spreading, right?
For long root veggies there might be some digging required if there is clay or very hard, not cultivated soil in the place where you want your veggie patch. You may read in some places that no-dig garden is loosing fertility after few years, but I believe this occurs when you start as no-dig, but continue conventional, petrochemical way. There are ways to maintain high nutrition and nitrogen level like sowing white clover or winter rye.

I found 2 great resources explaining basics of no-dig garden. One of them is 2 minutes long, very essential video below - energetic and providing clear instruction - worth to see. Second one is prepared by Australians step-by-step to no dig garden.
I promise you, after 5 minutes you will catch all reqired basics about no-dig garden to start your own.



Katarina said...

That's fabulour! I have to try!

Sylvana said...

I built raised bed frames over the grass in my lawn and just filled them with compost from the community site. The compost consists of a variety of yard waste like leaves and green grass. After a year the grass under the bed dies completely, the compost breaks down turning into rich humus and there is more room for additional amendments, like grass clippings from my yard. I only add soil when I first build the bed on top of the compost to start seeds in, otherwise I just plant right into the compost. Works great!

Millie said...

Fantastic ideas here Ewa! We've spent all weekend in our very Autumnal garden, trying to get things straightened out before we go into hibernation for the long cold Winter. The wonderful Polish people have been very much in the thoughts of us Aussies during your recent tragedy. I'm sure your resilience & strength will get you through, but you have indeed been dealt a huge blow no-one should have to bear.
Millie ^_^

Victoria Cummings said...

Ewa - You are inspiring me. I'm going to try it. And thank you for your wonderful comment on my blog! We are part of an amazing community and I feel so fortunate that I have met you and so many other smart, funny, visionary people over the years we've been blogging. What a window on the world!

Patrick said...

There's nothing wrong with building a bed this way, but in my opinion it's a little more trouble than necessary.

The advantage of something like this is after you build it, you can plant in it right away because most of the weeds below will be killed by the layers.

A simpler solution, that will work almost as well, is to just cover the ground with cardboard and on top of this put any available dirt that is mostly free of weeds. Waste compost from city collection is a good material to use for covering the cardboard.

If you have enough time to plan in advance, you can kill the weeds other ways. For example, I use plastic that I think is usually called ground cloth in Europe and landscape fabric in the US. It's a cheap reusable plastic, that's woven and will let water and air through, but will block sunlight. In this way, the weeds are killed but insects and other beneficial life is not disturbed. In my garden, it takes about 6 months to kill weeds this way.

After the weeds are killed, you can use so-called borderless raised beds if you want. This is just where you create paths between beds, usually with paving stones or pieces of wood, and otherwise treat the growing areas as a raised bed. The main disadvantage of this is you have to bend over farther to pull the weeds but is otherwise as good as a raised bed. You can also build a frame and fill it to create a proper raised bed.

It's hard to know for sure what kind of problems you might have with your ground, but for most people long term fertility is not a problem as long as you never use chemical fertilizers, compost and reuse your garden waste, and sensibly rotate your crops.

If you have any pre-existing problems with your ground, you need to address these of course. Nearly all common problems can be addressed by adding compost or building a proper raised bed, so if you are unsure, this is the best place to start. Most people don't have serious problems with their ground, and unless you have some specific information to suggest you do have problems, you probably don't.

Ewa said...

Sylvana - this is great how simple things may be, if we only catch what is important and what mechanisms need to be triggered.

Ewa said...

Millie, thanks so much for your words :) this is something that can't be explained.

Ewa said...

the idea of black ground cloth is great - saves the insects and doesn't allow weeds to grow.
I didn't think of it before.
The problem with my soil is that it is clay or its very sandy - no humus in it. I am dealing with it by adding organic matter. This year also I use white clover as my diggin' and nitrogen fixing agent. I think this video helped me to understand how much organic matter is needed for making good soil, so veggies will grow nicely. I know know, how they were struggling with me :)