No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

This is the place to discuss not just allotments but all general gardening problems and queries which don't fit into the specific categories below.
(formerly allotments and tips, hints and problems)
User avatar
Millymollymandy
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 17637
Joined: Tue May 10, 2005 6:09 am
Location: Brittany, France

Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187460Post Millymollymandy
Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:57 pm

There is a saying in France that goes something along the lines of "a good hoeing is worth x amount of waterings" (obviously in French it rhymes!) implying that if you break the surface pan of soil it stops the transpiration of moisture.

My veg patch isn't too much of a problem because we do dig in compost each year and effectively I'm planting annuals each year in it. However the flower beds with perennial plants are much more of a problem , that's where I spread a layer of compost or leaf mould on each year and can only really dig it in a little bit with a hand trowel whilst I'm weeding. When I've dug out plants to move them around or extend beds I can see about 6" of good dark soil but the rest is just the rubbishy gritty brown soil that we started with, cos the worms don't take it down deep enough - and this is after 5 years! It is a real pain and we have bedrock quite close to the surface in places too and it's very porous.

When it gets very dry here and I resort to the hose pipe I can spend an hour just on one smallish flower bed - I dig holes with a trowel and just jet water in again and again. I could spend an hour hosing one bed and then move the surface soil and all I've watered is about 1/2" - I kid you not, I do wonder where the hell all the water goes! but the hole digging is the only method I've found in order to actually get any water to penetrate down 6 inches or so. Most of my plants have awful surface roots because they come up to try to get the rain that falls that only wets the top inch or so. So there are times in late summer where I spend 3 or 4 hours a day watering just flower beds and my water bill can be pretty high. And also some of those plants that 'they' say are happy in sunny dry positions aren't, they still droop, like my poor buddleia which has never done well.

Weeds are always a problem as the bloody things don't need moisture :lol: but we have different weeds when it gets warmer and drier, one of which is a succulent and is edible, can't remember its name offhand.

I do mulch things like strawbs and rasps with straw early on but then have to move the straw out of the way to water the plants, otherwise the straw (like compost) just sucks up all the water. :( Oh yes raspberries droop too despite their enormous deep root system. :roll:

It's not that hot here compared to a lot of France but just dry gritty free draining soil on the side of a hill and once it's dried out that's it until we get serious amounts of rain in October/November.

I won't give up though. :iconbiggrin:
boboff wrote:Oh and just for MMM, :hugish: (thanks)
http://chateaumoorhen.blogspot.com/

grahamhobbs
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 1212
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:39 pm
Location: London

Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187474Post grahamhobbs
Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:06 pm

MMM, my deepest sympathies, in fact I do not know if I could cope with those conditions. Here in London with well mulched soil, it is only the exceptional crop that gets watered, even in summer (watering the polytunnels is enough for me).

I have some experience of gardening in the Touraine, like you a free draining soil on a slope, over limestone. Perenial flowers tend to be grown in the shade and in recent years everything else has tended to 'brulee' outside. But normally my friend who has 1/2 acre of veg only waters with rainwater collected from his roofs, so is limited to the amount he can water. With this limited watering, I have always been amazed at his crops, especially the cauliflowers, a reknowned thirsty plant. He, like you digs, his compost in (mind you it's usually with a tractor).

User avatar
A&A
Tom Good
Tom Good
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:09 pm
Location: Umbria, Central Italy

Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187492Post A&A
Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:58 pm

We're pretty hot here (i.e. above 30C and up to 40C during much of July/August) and mulching is absolutely the only way to go. We concentrate on keeping the sun off the soil and it gets a deep water every few days - if required. Even our raspberries love it - although we keep them in a semi-shaded area, rather than the recommended 'full sun' in the UK. Our soil is very heavy clay so when it bakes, it bakes hard!
Andy

Big Al
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 1640
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:28 am
Contact:

Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187506Post Big Al
Wed Feb 17, 2010 10:47 pm

Jessiebean wrote: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...
My veg patch is anywhere I can find spare ground and 3 deep beds of 20cm deep boards 1.2m wide and 2.4m long with gravel paths in between..... all made by my darling wife with me giving guidance with coffee cup in hand,lol. I put on bought in manure when I can afford it other than that it's just very liberal amounts of chicken pellets throught the season.


...... Saturday sees her finishing the foundations for my greenhouse,lol. She's never concreted before but there's a first time for everything.... and I need some more coffee...
Member of the Ishloss weight group 2013. starting weight 296.00 pounds on 01.01.2013. Now minus 0.20 pounds total THIS WEEK - 0.20 pounds Now over 320 pounds and couldn't give a fig...
Secret Asparagus binger

User avatar
Millymollymandy
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 17637
Joined: Tue May 10, 2005 6:09 am
Location: Brittany, France

Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187516Post Millymollymandy
Thu Feb 18, 2010 6:28 am

grahamhobbs wrote:MMM, my deepest sympathies, in fact I do not know if I could cope with those conditions.
Merci Graham, everyone thinks I'm mad because I loved the wet summer we had here in 2007, my flower beds looked fabulous, my pond stayed full and I never had to water anything!

We did have a bit of a nice discovery recently, bought some new plum trees to plant in our orchard because the ones higher up in the main bit of garden never do well unless they are irrigated :roll: , and our orchard is lower down, on the flat and beside a little stream and stays green and moist for much longer than the rest of the land around. Anyway when planting I was picking out what I thought were stones only to find they were lumps of CLAY! Yippee! I have high hopes for these plum trees. :iconbiggrin: Maybe I should just move the entire garden over the road to the orchard? :lol:
boboff wrote:Oh and just for MMM, :hugish: (thanks)
http://chateaumoorhen.blogspot.com/

grahamhobbs
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 1212
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:39 pm
Location: London

Re: No dig gardening in the Northern Hemisphere?

Post: # 187542Post grahamhobbs
Thu Feb 18, 2010 12:22 pm

MMM, as you say you can't generalise, I've always thought Brittany was wet with acid soils over granite, so there you are. But I agree, I'd move the garden to the better ground.

Post Reply