No-Dig Gardening

27 09 2010

Here we have the first “How not to do it” post. I say that because I usually get enthusiastic about something then lose patience / energy / motivation about half way through. This is especially true when it comes to vacuuming or weeding. So, with that in mind, I went in search of a way to grow vegies with less weeding. What I found was the No-Dig garden, which sounds like just what I was looking for. Here’s how to make your own:

First step is to create a raised garden bed. You do not need to dig over your lawn (yay!) simply mark out the space with bricks, buy a kit-set garden, or do what I did – collect recycled weather boards, stakes and timber off-cuts from the villa renovation down the road, invite a friend with carpentry skills over, give friend a beer and point in the direction of collected materials then step out of the way.

On the left is his garden, on the right is mine – spot the difference…

So the left hand one is going to be my lettuce and salad bed. The right is going to be a “3 Sisters” garden and potato stacks. I will cover the 3 Sisters in a later blog but in the meantime you can find further reading here.

Now that you have your garden space sorted you can move onto the next bit – filling it up. You will need a few items first that you can buy from a garden shop or collect from friends. You will need:

* Newspaper

* Good compost

* Lucerne hay

* Pea Straw

* Fertilizer – commercial mix or manure

The basic idea is that you layer up these items in such a way as to discourage weeds while providing an optimum growing environment for your vegetables.

Step 1 – Newspaper. Spread out sheets of newspaper evenly over the dirt/lawn at the bottom of your garden space to a depth of approx 2 cm. If you are creating your garden directly onto your lawn it is a good idea to mow it quite short first. Water well to soften the paper.

Step 2 – Lucerne Hay. You can get lucerne hay at any horse feed store and most larger pet shops. It will be cheaper at the feed store. Shake out segments of hay and spread evenly over the newspaper to an approximate depth of 10cm.

Step 3 – Fertilizer. I used pony poo that had been well aged – at least 4 months. You can use sheep, cow or chicken poo or a commercial product. Just use less over the commercial type. Again, spread evenly to a depth of approx 15-20cm.

Step 4 – Straw. Pea straw is probably the easiest to come by, but I had lucerne straw so that’s what I used. Spread to a depth of 10cm approx.

Step 5 – Fertilizer. As for step 3. I also added a light sprinkling of soluble general purpose fertilizer on top.

Step 6 – Compost. I had left my compost for too long so it resembles topsoil more than mulch. Either way it doesn’t matter, just make sure it is free of weeds and other objects. I found a Mr PotatoHead in my compost. Haven’t decided if I will return it to the neighbor kids yet 🙂

Step 7 – Water. With your hose set to mist, water well to make sure all the layers are damp. It is a good idea to let your garden settle for at least a couple of days before planting your seedlings or the fertilizer may burn the roots. Don’t sow seeds straight into the garden as it is designed to prevent this therefore keeping down your weeds.

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