No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

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Jessiebean
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No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187113Post Jessiebean
Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:00 am

No dig gardening is a very popular technique here down under as we are a very laid back bunch and digging just reeks of hard work... is it popular in the Northern part of the globe? I read a lot about double digging(shudder) and was just wondering if it is tradition or necessity that leads people to do so much digging?
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Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187124Post Julysea
Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:12 am

I try and do no-dig gardening both at home and at my allotment, but our trouble is that our soil is very clay-y and slightest pressure on it compacts it down and it needs digging again. So I tend to have to compromise and will dig it over once in the autumn, then mulch it over and plant and try very hard to stay on the 'paths' I've made in order to not have to dig it again until the following autumn.
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Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187132Post Evelyn J
Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:45 am

Diging is out for me these days, so i ues a garden claw, it only dose the top 6in so my nephew will be doing the diging at the end of the year, i am blessed with good soil though so it dosent get compacted and strictly stay on the path, this will be the first year i have done this so we will see if it works, if not a rethink is in order.

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Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187135Post Jessiebean
Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:02 am

Ah yes heavy clay soil. I understand that in theory no-dig method should help the clay by improving the structure of the soil BUT I have only really used the method here and the soil here is well... you know the naff teen movies where there is an "ugly girl" who gets a make over, you let down her hair, take off her glasses and throw into a miniskirt and suddely she is a total hottie (because she obviously always was)? well that is what my soil is like- been neglected for a very long time, dig out the occassional old battery and brick and add some humussy ingredients to the top and she is away and rich and fertile so I don't have to deal with clay or sand (yay!)
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Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187146Post gdb
Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:38 am

No dig is definitely popular with me!!!! :icon_smile:

I make deep raised beds. When making them I dig the soil.

But once made - I never need to dig again! (Maybe one good fork over every four or five years). And I've never had any problem with that approach.
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Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187147Post Millymollymandy
Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:04 pm

We have to dig to get compost into our soil or otherwise it just sits on the surface and then you can't sow seeds into it as you can't rake compost to a fine tilth! It does no good on the surface and needs to be deep down to help hold moisture in. But I have a solution, my husband does the digging these days! :iconbiggrin:

Double digging as far as I am aware is a once only thing when you a preparing an area that was never used as a veg patch or flower bed before.
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Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187206Post Big Al
Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:21 pm

Jessiebean wrote:No dig gardening is a very popular technique here down under as we are a very laid back bunch and digging just reeks of hard work... is it popular in the Northern part of the globe? I read a lot about double digging(shudder) and was just wondering if it is tradition or necessity that leads people to do so much digging?
I reckon I'm a tasmanian devil then.... I have done the no dig method for over 15 years now. It started out as no dig, no weed but the soil suffered under the black plastic I was using so now it's just no dig and a little weeding but my neighbour who is the hardy 70 odd yr old allotmenteer thinks double digging is the way even though it takes him all season to dig the plot over.
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Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187219Post Jessiebean
Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:46 pm

Yus I think the no dig method is evolving-the black plastic was very popular when I was a child. I think you are right to ditch it- the weeds are generally easy to pull up from a no dig garden Is yours a very deep buildup of layers or like mine and just like a thin lasagne on the top of the soil? I plant in pockets of compost which I put in the top layer- normally straw or similar.So far so good. Potatoes have in the ground but I am interested in the no dig ideas using straw so they come up clean...
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Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187323Post grahamhobbs
Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:10 pm

I've practised no-dig for the last 30 years, at least after I've got rid of the pernicious weeds like bindweed and couch grass. I've tried various methods but have settled on beds, approx. 1m wide, without any boards and with mown grass paths between. So long as you cut the grass regularly and remove the clippings, the grass gradually becomes finer and slower growing.

If I had a garden rather than an allotment, I might possibly go for gravel paths and boards. The important thing is not to have grass between boards as it is not easy to cut and it becomes a haven for slugs, as do earthen paths that get neglected (as they are hard to hoe) and weeds take over.

An alternative is to mulch both beds and paths (a la Charles Dowding) but you can't generate enough of your own compost to do this and I can't afford to buy it in like him.

I don't dig compost or manure in, I let the worms do the work. Also sat on top they also provide a mulch preventing germination of weeds and keeping the moisture in. If you are going to sow small seeds directly in the soil, then wait until the seedlings are up before applying the compost mulch.

Digging simply brings more weed seeds to the surface and breaks down the soil structure. By applying your compost and mulches to the surface, the worms will do all the work for you, allowing you to concentrate on tending your plants not the weeds.

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Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187370Post Jessiebean
Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:15 am

Graham, your method sounds like what I am attempting to do, I am pleased to read you have had such aresplenendt history with no-dig method I agree that mulching the paths with compost is too much- youch! that stuff is gold to me and I am not going to buy it in!
I have old concrete paths and I am making my own brick ones where there aren't any so luckily paths aren't a problem for me. The current garden beds are a good size and shape for me so I am merely building up layers on top of them. I think digging is bad for the soil too (also my back!) if I am forced I will use my fork a bit but prefer not to if avoidable!
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Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187380Post bonniethomas06
Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:05 am

I read this with interest - I think the no-dig method is a great one in practice, but in reality I have always been too scared to dare!

However, once I have finished DOUBLE DIGGING my new (previously grass) 35m x 16m patch (am 1/5 of the way through) and incorporating plenty of horse manure, I intend to never dig it again (or not for at least five years). Scary! But it makes sense.
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Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187422Post Jessiebean
Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:57 pm

I wonder if adding many worms would help to soften the ground underneath the garden without digging? I haven't seen worms in my garden for a while so am unreasonably fascinated with them.
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Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187451Post grahamhobbs
Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:08 am

Jessiebean I would not suggest adding worms, but add compost, organic material to the surface. The worms will arrive and start to take the organic material down into the soil.

A mulch on the surface will keep the soil more worm friendly, without the mulch I imagine the soil in Australia is going to be too hot, dry and lacking humus for worms.

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Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187454Post Millymollymandy
Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:51 am

Mulch is no good for dry soils/climates as it effectively forms a barrier which stops any rain water or water from hosepipes/cans etc from getting to the soil to moisten it. In summer my soil is bone dry down at least a meter (never dug further!) and all my worms have gone down to Australia! :lol:

So as I said before, the compost/muck/whatever has to be dug IN so that it helps retain moisture under the soil surface or it is more of a hindrance than help.

(and it's not just me who says that from my own experience but also my French gardening magazine!).

So you just have to try different things to find out what works best for your kind of soil and climate.
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Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187455Post grahamhobbs
Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:19 pm

MMM, that's thought provoking. I would like to read more about gardening and the use of humus in such conditions.

Have you heard of the woman in (South of ?) France, quite well known (sorry can't remember her name) who grows veg in bed system with mulches?

Personally I would experiment with partial mulches and running crops parrallel to the contours to encourage water into the soil. Otherwise I guess it is so hot/dry that weeds are not such a problem, that mechanically digging, incorporating humus, but regularly keeping the surface soil crumbly to maintain a kind of soil mulch may be the best approach.

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