What is ‘No Dig’
- ‘No Dig’ gardening or not turning over your soil is growing in popularity with organic farmers and some gardeners. It is a term used for clearing the ground and establishing a minimum cultivation area without digging.
- The substitute for digging is mulching. The garden may be covered with paper or cardboard and topped with a deep layer of compost. Worms will help drag the organic matter down into the soil.
- Plastic sheeting is a poor substitute as it brings nothing to the party but stifles weeds.
- Alternate layers of manure and straw can help build up the quality of ‘no dig’ soil.
- Water well avoid walking on the plot and plan to plant through the mulches with minimum disturbance.
Benefits of Minimum Cultivation
- This form of gardening is less labour intensive compared to dig a spit deep or heaven forbid, double digging.
- Using a good layer of straw or compost improves soil structure and builds up over the years.
- The soil remains in good heart and there should be less soil erosion and runoff
- Beneficial invertebrates, fungi and earthworms will enjoy the lack of disturbance and repay the no dig gardener with increase fertility.
- Minimum cultivation reduces the loss of nitrates and reduces leaching.
- Less wear and tear on the gardeners back.
- The texture of the soil will become darker and crumbly with a good tilth.
- Digging can bring up perennial weed seeds that are best left deeper in the soil where light can’t set them into germination.