Never, ever dig your garden again
Digging in gardens is for the birds! Actually, it's for the worms.
Have you ever tried no-dig gardening, or do you prefer to garden the back-breaking way?
Click the image for a larger view of the garden as it was when we moved to our new place last month, and my son Remy proudly showing what we did in 2.5 hours today (which time included a trip to the hardware shop) -- and that's the last time we'll ever have to do any hard work in our vegie patch.
We chose a cool day after rain to make it easier. We've planted beans, watermelon, corn, tomatoes, beets and more. This is the last time we will ever have to use a spade or fork on this garden, because we have used paper, cardboard and weeds to create a no-dig garden. We doubled the size of the patch, with absolutely no digging at all. The cardboard (from boxes) and waste paper that we laid over the section of lawn to extend the vegie patch will kill the grass by excluding the sunlight. On top of that layer we put some soil and the weeds we had just pulled out. Then the bacteria and worms will do the rest, turning the organic matter into mulch and humus. It really is that easy. If I had an old carpet or rug I would use that -- woollen or cotton, of course, not nylon or any other plastic fibre.
Over the next few weeks the worms will turn the extended area of the vegie patch into rich soil, without Remy or your almanackist having to use a spade or fork. I will add more hedge clippings, etc, and maybe some manure, perhaps some kitchen waste such as vegetable peelings (no meat). I won't ever need to turn it with a garden fork -- that's what Mother Nature invented worms for. Lord bless 'em. In about a month I can poke some holes through what's left of the rotting cardboard and plant some other seedlings, like lettuce, chilis, herbs -- whatever is right for the season.
It works easily for me, it will work easily for you
No-dig is a method I've been using for 35 years, and it works like a dream. I am constitutionally lazy -- I like easy solutions. I'm stingy -- I like free food. In one no-dig garden I once made, I harvested 480 tomatoes from six plants. So, give it a try, and if you're new to permaculture and organic gardening, read up on how you can get more with less effort. When you learn to love soil, you will be repaid many times over.
But remember, permaculture is not organic gardening -- it is a principle of design for any place and region on the planet, one that can save the earth! Many people confuse the two. Think of organics and no-dig gardening as sub-sets of permaculture. Permaculture is much more than gardening and it holds the key to the vast majority of the world's problems, most of which stem from greed, poverty and the misuse of soil and land.
Let Ma Nature do the digging for you, study up on permaculture, and tell your friends they never have to get blisters in the garden again. Enjoy your free vegies! They will taste like food, not like that plastic crap from the supermarket.
Update: Almaniac Francesca writes: "WOW! It's a cold rainy fall up here in Chicago, IL USA. I want to expand a bed about 6 feet and the thought of triple digging through an established lawn that's been there since 1938 was making my old muscles scream. We call this lasagna gardening and I am so chuffed that you reminded me of it. Off to the freecycle list to find free card board ... with love and gratitude from my not to be aching muscles, Francesca"