No dig gardening method

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Odsox
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No dig gardening method

Post: #286412 Odsox
Sun Jan 31, 2016 11:41 am

I know some of you are actively growing stuff using the "no dig" method, but it is something that I've never really looked into. I was born in an era where you were supposed to not only dig every autumn/winter and fork over between sowings, but DOUBLE dig every 2 or 3 years.
I confess I've never double dug as I'm far too lazy, but I do single dig at least once a year, and I do like the nice crumbly (friable?) tilth you get, which certainly looks like a good place to sow seeds.
But it's been nagging at my brain for a few years now and so I thought I ought to give it a go on an experimental basis.

Reading Charles Dowding proved to be very interesting, especially the tests that he has carried out with various crops, as it seems that some crops do well with "no dig" and some do better with conventional growing, although the difference between the two techniques is quite small overall.

However I can see a problem with me switching over to "no dig" as it requires quite a quantity of compost every year. When I first moved here it wouldn't have been that much of a problem as cow manure was easy to obtain, but now nearly all dairy farmers here have slatted floored cattle housing and beef cattle are left out all winter.
Unlike the UK there is no compost from councils, free or otherwise, and I don't make nearly enough of my own with kitchen waste from just us two.
So I was wondering what others do about compost.
Tony

Disclaimer: I almost certainly haven't a clue what I'm talking about.

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Re: No dig gardening method

Post: #286413 tosca
Sun Jan 31, 2016 3:16 pm

I would love to try it but like you, can't get the compost or well rotted manure, it's an alien concept to a lot of locals despite so many growing their own food. Most is dumped on tips. We don't produce enough of our own to give a good cover. With having the goats we should have enough to give it a try next year in a small area.

Always assuming I can get my OH into it....he hates anything he doesn't understand and has never seen. :roll:

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Re: No dig gardening method

Post: #286414 diggernotdreamer
Sun Jan 31, 2016 5:39 pm

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I do no dig, but not like Charles Dowding. My soil is covered nearly all the time. I use dampened newspaper, thin card, corrugated cardboard etc and then cover that over with spoiled hay or straw, I have even had the farmer up the road dump me some spoiled silage to use, later on in the year, I use grass mowings on top and earth up my no dig potatoes with grass mowings. When I lived in a town, my neighbours used to give me their grass mowings which I used on the beds and then used to activate my compost heap. Even if your neighbours keep small pets like rabbits or guinea pigs, you could ask them to give you all the soiled bedding to bulk up your compost heap. In the winter, I put soiled bedding straight out of the chickens and ducks onto the beds and then cover over with the paper and straw to overwinter and break straight down. You can also grow green manures like tares overwinter and then hoe them off before flowering and leave them on the surface, when I do that, I again cover over with the paper and straw. Straw is easily available and you can even condition it by urinating onto it when you are in the garden. I grow most things as transplants and just push them into the mulches, it cuts down the need for weeding as well. If I am planting root crops and directly sowing, I gouge little trenches and sow the seeds and cover over with a weed free potting compost, some times I will fluid sow the root crops.
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Flo
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Re: No dig gardening method

Post: #286427 Flo
Mon Feb 01, 2016 3:52 pm

I do a lot of the things that diggernotdreamer does but we are on good honest brick making clay and digging is essential if you are not on raised beds. So dig first and do the above after. It's coming to the point where no dig might be possible on one plot.

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Re: No dig gardening method

Post: #286439 Odsox
Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:04 pm

Thanks for the replies and interested that you use grass mowings DnD.
One thing that I've just thought of that needs an explanation, if you lay seeds on an un-dug soil surface and cover with some compost, don't the seeds push themselves out of the soil? I have a bit of trouble with broad beans and peas doing that on a dug and cultivated bed.
Getting back to grass mowings, that Is something I need to make more use of rather than dump them in the corner. So maybe I'll make use of them that way.
Tony

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Re: No dig gardening method

Post: #286440 Green Aura
Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:58 pm

My Dad used to make a shallow trench, not dug, just shoved to one side really. He filled that in the autumn and filled it with kitchen scraps (veg) then used it to plant his beans in the spring. Other than that though he was definitely of the dig
camp.

And (Tony shudders) a neighbour has excellent results from growing spuds in grass cuttings. She doesn't even make beds, just lays them on cardboard and adds clippings as and when.
Maggie

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Re: No dig gardening method

Post: #286442 Odsox
Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:31 pm

Green Aura wrote:My Dad used to make a shallow trench, not dug, just shoved to one side really. He filled that in the autumn and filled it with kitchen scraps (veg) then used it to plant his beans in the spring.

Yes I used to do that too, it was the recognised way of growing Runner Beans. I don't any more though as I get more beans than I can eat without faffing about like that.

Interesting about the potatoes, the same as DnD. That would be a way of growing potatoes on the same plot every year without blight spore build up, or any other nasties come to that, as it would be like planting in a brand new bed every time.
And :iconbiggrin: without the backbreaking work of digging before planting and then digging them up later.
Tony

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Re: No dig gardening method

Post: #286446 diggernotdreamer
Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:46 pm

I think it takes me just a few hours to put in spuds in, soak paper and cover with whatever mulch material I have. the thing that takes the longest for me is putting up the hoops and netting to stop the rooks digging everything up. It makes like so easy, I feel almost guilty when I see people ridging up and sweating and I have loads of spuds easily. I have a little tool called a Ibis cultivator, when I sow root crops directly, I make a little furrow with it, like a mini plough, sow the seeds and then cover with the compost again. Either side of the rows, I still have the mulch so the weeds are suppressed.

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Re: No dig gardening method

Post: #286451 Odsox
Tue Feb 02, 2016 4:28 pm

One thing I don't understand, well several things really, but the main one about growing under grass mowings is, how do you fertilise the crop.
It's self evident if you use homemade compost or rotted manure, but there ain't much goodness in clipped grass and newspaper. When I plant conventionally I scatter bone meal and seaweed or wilted comfrey in the trench before covering them up and I suppose I could still do that before covering with grass, is that the sort of thing you do, DnD ?
Tony

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Re: No dig gardening method

Post: #286453 Green Aura
Tue Feb 02, 2016 4:39 pm

I have another question about using grass clippings. I keep meaning to ask my neighbour but always forget when I see her.

Do the clippings go slimy like they do if you put too much in the compost bin, or is it the other stuff in the bin that causes that. It's just an idle thought really as I have no lawn and my neighbour's already bagsied the stuff from communal areas.
Maggie

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Re: No dig gardening method

Post: #286458 Flo
Tue Feb 02, 2016 5:12 pm

You need layers of browns such as cardboard or scrunched up newspaper to mix with the grass clippings Maggie. They do go slimy if there is nothing that is not green with them - you know the rules don't' you? Sounds a silly thing to say but so many people need telling! Even some of my fellow allotment holders!

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Re: No dig gardening method

Post: #286464 Green Aura
Tue Feb 02, 2016 7:59 pm

I know the rules for composting but it doesn't seem to work the same on the garden. The reason I asked is that the spuds she grows seem remarkably clean. They're definitely not covered in slime.
Maggie

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Re: No dig gardening method

Post: #286468 diggernotdreamer
Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:54 am

My spuds are very good and clean, never covered in slime (yuk), you don't need layers of paper when you put it down as a mulch, the only reason you need to do that in the compost heap is that it needs the layers to enable the flow of air, and a lot of people just dump a whole load of mowing into their heap in one go, I used to layer the mowings from the neighbours with the bedding from the chickens to make it break down super fast, but then I was making compost for the garden in 8 weeks. When you put the mowings round the spuds, you are not putting huge quantities round them, I make the layers about 2-4" thick depending on how much grass I have and in that situation, the mowings are breaking down quite nicely and have mostly turned brown and by the time the spuds are ready to harvest, you can just pull it all out of the way and get your lovely clean spuds. After the spuds are harvested, I cover anything that is left with another layer of paper and whatever and start again

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Re: No dig gardening method

Post: #286471 Odsox
Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:25 am

OK, I'll give it a go this year, although I suppose in the spirit of things I had better do one row of each variety the "conventional" way.
I wasn't particularly worried about slimy grass mowings as I used to use them as a thick mulch between the rows of conventionally grown spuds, just to keep the weeds down until the potato haulm took over. That never went slimy as the layer never compacted which allowed air in, so it just dried. That might be a bit of a problem if we have a dry but windy spell in March, as the covering might blow away.
Tony

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Re: No dig gardening method

Post: #286479 doofaloofa
Thu Feb 04, 2016 6:44 am

What kind pests do you get with no digging DnD?

As to the goodness in grass clipping i think of it like this

Manure is, for the most part, grass clippings with most of the nitrogen removed to make the animal that pooped, so should have more N in

There could be an issue with acidity, but spuds love it so it's all good
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