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No-dig gardening

Last post 04-03-2008 9:10 PM by poodlesgardener. 12 replies.

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  • 02/01/2005 12:49 PM
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    I had heard somewhere about an idea called no dig gardening. I think that the idea is to minimise the soil disturbance? Has anyone tried this? Does this work? Having just cleared part of my veggie plot it sounds very appealing.

  • 06/02/2005 09:17 AM
    • ken69
    • Norfolk UK
    • 23 Nov 2004
    • 405
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    Yes, Sunflower, I did this for several years until recently, but then I had a huge daily surplus of grass clippings,so dumped them in rows on my allotment (onto undug hard land infested with couch grass) to rot off.Then I placed potato seed well down into the mulch and lo and behold the best crop ever, clean too.If anything less slug damage.Did the same thing with Broad Beans and Runner Beans, but didn't try carrots or other root crops, but see no great problems if you used short stumpy varieties,and you may have to use a heavy duty fork to determine the rows and get the seed started . I should imagine beetroot and radish would be OK too. This no dig system is also good for marrow and pumpkin and a huge side effect of not digging but mulching is the water retention.Another problem, it doesn't look as neat and tidy as a conventional plot, but YOU WILL get a harvest, with a lot less work. If you are concerned about being too 'different' just do a part of your garden or allotment.Cheers big ears.

  • 06/02/2005 11:52 AM
    • prentonboy
    • Wirral
    • 26 Feb 2004
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    Ken, I don't see why it should't look as neat as conventional methods. I used 'no dig' on my allotment by creating beds 4' wide with paths in between. This means that once the beds are dug initially, (which they would have to be done on a new allotment), there would be no need to walk on the beds at all, so no compaction. No dig doesn't mean no weeding. All the sowing, planting and weeding can take place from the paths.

  • 06/02/2005 04:08 PM
    • ken69
    • Norfolk UK
    • 23 Nov 2004
    • 405
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    My no dig trial (over several years) was no dig in the first place.'Never dig' as it were. But I did have an inexhaustable supply of mulch and the taters etc grew in that and no weeds came thru because of the thickness.I strimmed initially some hard ground, SBK'd the heavy weeds and carried on from there, and in the following year(s) stopped digging, and more mulching. Could be done if you had loadsa horse or pig muck, or, as in my casae a lot of grass mowings.The beans were pre grown.Taters came out clean. Slightly different technique for harvesting but overall a lot less effort.Looks untidy and not everybodies cuppa tea, and the other old codgers down the allotments were doubtful until the end.

  • 07/02/2005 10:25 AM
    • Obelix
    • Belgium
    • 24 Nov 2004
    • 442
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    Hi all - we have raised beds in the veggie patch which never get dug - unless I'm removing yet another escaped raspberry. They get a layer of compost before being planted up and a regular hoeing to keep the weeds under control and they look very attractive. I only grow stuff I can't easily buy so it's fancy lettuces and rocket, fennel (for the swallow-tails), yellow courgettes, over-wintering onion sets and anything else that takes my fancy. Trying Jerusalem artichokes this year.

    Obelix - Belgium
  • 08/02/2005 08:58 AM
    • ken69
    • Norfolk UK
    • 23 Nov 2004
    • 405
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    You could do your own trials, SUNFLOWER, raised beds, never to be trod on, and never dig, and conventional mulching.Scaffold planking seem popular for walking on or for retaining the soil, and I think the original idea of raised beds was to aid drainage, but if your soil is light!!

  • 08/02/2005 11:58 AM
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    Hi Ken, Thanks for the advice. I shall give it a whirl on the allotment. Its good to hear that it is a real technique though - one that sounds like it really works. I was a bit dubious as it sounded far too easy [;)] Sunflower

  • 08/02/2005 12:43 PM
    • ken69
    • Norfolk UK
    • 23 Nov 2004
    • 405
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    I said that to a Scottish soldier once, Sunflower..."give us a twirl".

  • 16/02/2005 11:45 PM
    • Obelix
    • Belgium
    • 24 Nov 2004
    • 442
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    It strikes me you need to take advantage of technological advances. It is possible to hire turf cutters which strip off the top layer of lawns which you can then stack upside down to decompose and make lovely compost. You can also hire, or buy on ebay etc, lightweight rotivators to dig up the soil and create beds for veggies and flowers according to your preference. You can also ship in well-rotted horse manure from a nearby stables and some local councils provide a composting service for garden waste which is distributed free to gardeners in need.

    Obelix - Belgium
  • 17/02/2005 08:50 AM
    • ken69
    • Norfolk UK
    • 23 Nov 2004
    • 405
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    Have also heard it called Irish gardening, Roseann., but do try 'never dig', even if only a small part of your lawn.A lot less effort....Ken

  • 03/04/2005 06:12 PM
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    No dig gardening really becomes less dig gardening if you follow some rules. Divide plot into smaller units eg 5 metres by 1.5 metres and it will seem less work when you are clearing, weeding etc. You will need half metre paths or so in between plots for wheelbarrow. Find some old plastic (a friendly farmer may give you some used black silage plastic) and cover overgrown and weedy areas for a few months or even a year and everything (mostly) will be dead and it will be easier to dig. Once dug, cover again when not growing any crops which will keep weeds away and warm up soil. There's more to this system, lots, but this is a good beginning.

    less-dig
  • 21/01/2007 07:02 PM
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    Hi Obelix, A word of warning regards the Jerusalem artichokes. Place them in a permanent area that can grow Jerusalem Artichokes for ever and a day as once you have them they are the very devil to eradicate from a place in a rotation, hence the permanet plot. Like potatoes they grow from a small bit left in the ground, on my old allotment site that I left a few years ago my father place some in around 1956 and they where still cropping when I moved. I saw on a television programe the other day the tubers sliced (not too thinly) and cooked like crisps in deep oil, I think they would taste delicious like this.

  • 04/03/2008 09:10 PM
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    Jerusalem artichokes are lovely in soup too. However, best to eat them on a well-ventilated day...