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No-Dig Gardening

The concept of no-dig gardening was developed by an Australian named Esther Deans. Originally developed both as a labour-saving practice, as well as a cost effective method to rejuvenate badly depleted soil in a vegetable garden.

The process involves starting with layers of newspaper, and by adding lucerne hay, straw and compost in succeeding layers. By using this method you can create a growing medium without resorting to heavy digging, one that is rich in nutrients, with less weeds, and encourages your much desired plants to grow. The layers compost together, which greatly encourage earthworms. The gardens are maintained by adding manure, compost, etc., and should not be dug up, as this will undo the good work. This is an ideal method of creating vegetable gardens, and it certainly does work. The principle of not digging has solid foundations. Excessive cultivation of the soil, especially if it is either saturated or very dry, will damage the structure of the soil, leading to compaction. Such excessive cultivation can also discourage the earthworms, and they are the best free labour your garden has. Some followers of permaculture and organic gardening have translated no-dig into never-dig, which is most likely a mistake. If you start with a base soil that is badly compacted, then your no-dig garden will initially work well, but you may find your garden does not continue to perform well. The fertile layer you have built up will encourage the earthworms, but we do know that the worms need to shelter from excessively hot, dry, cold or wet conditions. They have been found to seek shelter from extreme conditions by burrowing more deeply into the soil, sometimes many feet down. If they cannot shelter in this way, they will either die out or move out. We suggest an initial cultivation of the soil before you apply the no-dig system, this will guarantee a better environment for the worms, and thus a better garden for growing your plants, over the longer term. By all means give the no-dig approach a try – you will be pleased with the result.


Read more, Learn more - You may also like to read our other article about Gardening and the Environment


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