After taking on another half plot last year I wanted to put it over to no dig as mentioned in last posting, now I am not completely new to no dig as 50% of my older plots have been that from day 1. The difference is this time it was to be the whole area and more use of cardborad and animal manure (mainly cows).
We are about to enter August and Summer is truly with us so now would be a good time to talk about the pros and cons of no dig gardening.
When I took on the plot I covered it in a thick layer of cardboard followed by a good 2 inches at least of leaves which had not been rotted down followed by a thick layer of cow and horse poo which was still quite fresh although there was no smell of amonia from their pee. I forgot to add previous to this I planted several fruit trees 2/3 years old around the plot. All I needed to do now was start sowing seeds in modules to plant up new plot and wait to see what the fruits of my labour would be.
As the plot had fresher manure I decided it would be best using it for beans, squashes, peas and flowers (well that was the plan). I then went about constructing bean poles and as the time went by aquiring old drawers and pallets which were used as beds and the new plot started to take shape, by adding a good layer of compost in a few of the beds I have managed also to grow beetroot, fennel and not so successfully shallots. I also added a couple of old dustbins for growing carrots turned an old pallet in to a strawberry planter. The bottom line is the new plot has become a bit of a recyling plot to see what everyday items can be reused from old kitchen cupborads to a set of pine drawers.
The result of the no dig so far has been fantastic with healthy beans, peas, squashes, beetroot, fennel and flowers. There has been next to no weeding except in the areas I used horse manure, I am guessing they dont digest as well as cows and where I have had to weed I just pull it by hand which is simple.
The title of this post is to dig or not to dig and the answer for me is a no brainer, why dig when all you need to do is keep adding organic matter and the worms will do the work for you.
I would also add that a great resource for the no dig method of gardening is a book by Charles Dowding titled 'Organic gardening the no dig way' available from green books. Also I have posted lots of photos of my exploits on twitter username @AllotmentGas and videos on youtube which you can click on at side of blog.
Take care and put away your spades the future of gardening is changing.