Have you thought about going no-dig?

Last year I committed to going no-dig in my veg patch and I have to say I was really pleased with the results. In my first Diary of a Rocket Gardener post of the year, I wanted to try and encourage a few others to try this completely logical approach to growing veg.

What is No-Dig?

Essentially, the no-dig method is a way of managing your soil without using a garden fork. There is no digging involved. Rather than digging over your soil at the start of every season and doing heavy weeding, you simply add a thick layer of mulch on top of the soil and suppress weeds. The idea is that this more closely imitates nature, and leaves the soil structure intact which naturally improves its consistency and quality.

What are the benefits?

  1. You don’t have to do as much digging – therefore, no sore backs!
  2. You don’t need to spend as much time weeding.
  3. Soil structure is left untouched and soil quality therefore improves itself naturally with a good habitat of worms and micro-organisms doing all the work.
  4. You can get a new veg bed on the go really quickly, even in a very weedy area, and plant that same day!
  5. You won’t have to water as often.
  6. You will struggle less with slugs

How is it done?

Essentially it’s a 5 step process:

Step 1: Lay down a layer of cardboard (on top of any weeds)

Step 2: Cover with an (approx) 10cm layer of compost

Step 3: Plant your plants. The plants will grow and their roots will break through the cardboard (which has suppressed weeds)

Step 4: How regularly to prevent new weeds from shooting up.

Step 5: At the end of the season, simply pull up plants and top up the soil with a fresh layer of compost (approx 3-5cm thick) to suppress new weeds.

Where can I learn more?

Undoubtedly the guru of No Dig is Charles Dowding – you would do really well to visit his website and buy one of his books if you’re interested in exploring further. I went on one of his workshops and learnt a huge amount. I can really recommend them!