I’ve wanted to try a garden where I don’t dig/turn the soil for a while*, though I always came up with an excuse; the soil is too compact so I need to aerate it, I want to remove all these weeds and it’s quicker and easier to dig it all up or I want to get the nutrients deeper down.

Slowly I’ve read and had more conversations about the technique and benefits of no dig and I’m ready to give it a red hot go.

The reasons to not dig:

  • It keeps the ecosystems that are full of micro-organisms and fungi in tact
  • Depending on the scale and environment it prevents erosions/loss of top soil
  • It prevents ‘weed’ seeds that are deep down from coming to the surface
  • It keeps the soil hydrated
  • Less labour intensive work – not back braking
  • To work with nature rather than against it – to connect

Where I want to start

I’ve got a section within my garden that has broad beans, garlic, peas and a few other veggies. My plan is come spring when planting the next crop to use all the plant matter that we won’t consume to provide the first layer of organic matter by chopping the plants and dropping them where they stood – ‘chop and drop’.

Along with a bit of compost, wood shavings and other organic matter I hope to gradually build this no dig area.

Some ideas I want to try out and will expand on in later posts

  • Working in sticks and other matter as the layers are being built to create aeration in the future ie. broad bean stalks being cut and left in place will be providing air in future year as other organic matter breaks down quicker around it
  • Having dedicated walking areas so no pressure is put on the soil – preventing soil compaction
  • Testing out different leaves, wood shavings, organic waste products as mulch
  • Applying food scraps directly on top of the soil as a different form of composting

Some questions I have

  • How long do the colonies of micro organisms take to develop into a beneficial size?
  • What are these micro organisms and fungi?
  • What are their benefits?
  • Can no dig be used on a large scale?
  • What should you add onto a no dig garden?
  • What weeds need to be removed from a no dig?

Do you have any questions? Post them below.

*There is a lot more to natural farming than not digging but this is where i’m starting.

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