Aug 292015

As an alternative style of Vegie Garden, why not build a ‘No-Dig Garden’ this year?

The benefits include…

  • Easy to set up and requires very low on-going maintenance
  • Saves on water and fertiliser
  • Potential to fully recycle kitchen scraps and garden waste
  • Can be built as a garden bed or in any container to any shape or size

To build a No-Dig Garden on an existing lawn or onto soil:

1. Mark out and form walls of no dig garden. The walls should be at least 20cm high, but may be a lot higher. You can use anything including old rocks or sleepers or bricks, blocks, pavers etc…

2. Line the base with a 3 – 5mm thickness of newspaper to suppress weeds; and wet thoroughly.

3. The idea is to then stack alternating layers of fine and coarse compostable materials. For example; start with a layer of lucerne, then a thin layer of cow manure, then a layer of compost, and then repeat the layers finishing with a thick compost layer. Here is the potential to use up bags of autumn leaves you may have collected or bags of other animal manures and bedding, such as horse or chicken, rabbit and guinea pig. You could even collect coffee grounds from your favourite café and add those in a layer.

Over the top of the final compost layer, I like to spread out pea straw or lucerne as a mulch for the plantings.

4. Planting can be done into the top compost layer. Move apart the mulch and use a trowel to make a small hole to fit the seedlings in and plant. Trowel a small hole to fit the seedlings in and plant. Water in well. The plant will eventually establish a strong root system in its nutritional base.

5. As the seedlings grow and the layers rot down, top up with more layers of manure and compost. This is usually done seasonally, once one lot of plants has finished and you are anticipating putting the next lot in.

In a large container, do the same as above but omit Step 1.

To build a No dig Garden on a sealed surface:

1. Mark out the size of the beds and construct the sides. If using bricks, sleepers or other rectangular shaped materials, make sure you leave some gaps for drainage. The walls should be at least 50 cm high.

2. Place a 7 – 10mm layer of coarse screenings or scoria at the base for drainage.

3. Layer the materials as listed above.

4. Plant the bed.

5. Top up layers as they rot down.

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