The Lazy No Dig Garden
Okay, perhaps ‘lazy’ isn’t appropriate, but certainly ‘no dig’ is a lot easier than ‘dig till you drop’!
This article is to do with a more sustainable way of gardening and it’s to help you understand a little more about how to protect your soil – a very precious resource – making hard digging a thing of the past.
This concept falls under the term ‘permaculture’. This terms refers to working with nature and using sustainable garden practices. The ‘no dig’ garden focuses on what to do with your soil to ensure that weed growth is minimized naturally and nutrients are kept at optimum levels.
First of all, the important thing to remember is that bare soil is vulnerable soil. It gets dried hard by the sun, washed away by the rain, blown away by the wind and nutrient deprived by weeds. The best way to avoid these issues is to keep the soil covered as much as possible.
What coverings are best for soil?
Plants. Mulch. Compost. Manure. All great plant coverings that help sustain the soil and protect it from the elements. Soil without nutrients is just dirt and it has a hard time supporting growth. Soil with nutrients is a garden petrie dish just waiting to sprout forth. Soil does best when it is not dug. Digging encourages the breakdown of the soil and it invites weeds to take root. When the soil is adequately mulched, weeds are discouraged. Unfortunately, you will still get weeds appearing and it’s best to pull them out while they are still small and before they’ve spread.
Instead of trying to condition the soil by digging, cover it with a layer of well rotted compost or mature mulch. A layer of between 1 and 2 inches is best. If you add sea soil to your garden, sea soil is so rich in nutrients and humus that mulch is not necessary. Adding mulch, compost, manure or sea soil improves water retention without making the soil water logged.
Take care of the soil both right after planting and when you remove plants.
For instance, if you are planting vegetables, add the mulch as soon as the vegetables are planted. When you harvest the vegetables, mulch again. Don’t leave the soil bare.
You might have noticed that earlier we mentioned ‘mature mulch’. This is important. Fresh organic matter provides a habitat that attracts pests into your garden. Slugs, snails and rodents like it. Once the organic matter is mature, it has broken down considerably and doesn’t offer them shelter.
You can create your own mulch by mixing compost, manure, leaf mold, grass clippings and even rotten hay. Let it mature for several months to a year before using to enhance your soil. When it’s mature, you don’t need to dig it into the soil. All you have to do is spread it over the top.
Make sure all your bare soil is always covered. Even if there are only small patches of bare soil, put mulch over them. If left alone, these patches will grow. Be sure to mulch before the Winter as this season is particularly hard on bare soil.
A properly mulched garden is an easy garden to plant. No hard digging is necessary as the soil composition is loose and easy to work with.