Garden Smarter, Not Harder! Have you ever been curious about a no-till or a no dig garden?
No-dig gardening is a method of gardening that, as the name suggests, doesn’t require much digging or tilling.
No-dig gardening has a number of benefits that can be appealing to beginner gardeners. I have incorporated the no-dig techniques for a few years now and I will never go back to traditional methods!
In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of a no-dig garden so that you can decide if it’s right for you.
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What is the No Dig Gardening Method?
No-dig gardening is a method of gardening that uses much less tilling or digging of the soil.
Actually, if you reason on it no dig gardening mimics nature. So instead of manpower, we will use the power of nature to create a beautiful garden.
This means that instead of cultivating the soil with shovels, rototillers, or other tools you basically add new layers of organic matter on top of the existing soil.
When planting you only disturb the soil enough to place the root ball of the plant you are adding to your garden or beds.
my no dig garden start
My Lazy Garden Beginning
Starting a garden doesn’t have to take a lot of heavy work or time. Starting out slower and smarter is the best way to enjoy being outdoors and enjoy nature at its grandest.
No-dig gardening has been around for ages but seems to have been written about back in the 1940s.
I first ran across it in Ruth Stout’s “Gardening Without Work” publication from the ’50s which was reprinted partially in Organic Gardening Magazine back in the ’80s.
Charles Dowding is currently well known for promoting no-dig or no-till gardening on his YouTube channel and is a fount of knowledge on the subject.
Benefits of no-dig gardening
The number one benefit for me is that this method of gardening saves time and secondly, it saves money. (also, your back)
Many start by laying cardboard down to suppress what is already growing in an area but I did not find that necessary.
Now be warned there are some pesky perennial weeds like bermudagrass or bindweed that will come up from rhizomes buried deep in the soil that nothing will prevent from coming up. The only fix for that is constantly pulling and removing.
easy tips and tricks
How to Start a Garden with Ease
Start an easy garden for beginners. Starting a garden doesn’t have to take a lot of heavy work or time. Begin small, slow, and smart.
Heavy-duty landscape fabric can be used to suppress the perennial weeds that seem impossible to eradicate in the base of raised beds.
Improved Soil Structure:
When you dig up the soil, you disrupt its structure. This can lead to compaction, which decreases drainage and aeration.
No-dig gardens have improved soil structure because you are not interfering with nature’s form of aerating the soil. This leads to healthier plants and a more productive garden overall.
Regenerate the soil
Stop Fertilizing, Do This Instead!
If you’re new to gardening, you might think that the key to a thriving garden is to fertilize, fertilize, fertilize. Just stop, Regenerate the Soil instead!
No Dig Garden = Less Weeding
Many weeds and weed seeds are often found in the top layer of soil, which is why they’re easy to pull out when you’re digging.
When you have a no-dig garden, there is no need to dig up the soil, which means there are fewer opportunities for weeds germinate and to take root.
Just note, weeds are not always a bad thing.
Some weeds can be used to make an all-natural fertilizer, I will write a post on that another time. Weeds growing in a certain area can be an indicator of soil health as well.
Reduced Soil Erosion
No-dig gardens have less bare soil exposed to wind and rain, which reduces the amount of erosion that occurs.
Increased Soil Fertility
Because no-dig gardens have improved drainage and aeration, they also have increased fertility.
This is due to the fact that water and air can more easily reach the roots of plants in no-dig gardens.
Techniques used in no-dig gardening like cover crops, letting roots of spent plants remain to rot in place, and judicious mulching all improve the soil nutrients.
Better Water Retention
The improved structure of soils in no-dig gardens also leads to better water retention.
This is because compacted soils drain less effectively than loose soils. By the addition of organic matter that acts as sponges and improves air pockets, no-dig gardens are able to retain more water during wet periods and dry periods alike.
All of the above factors—improved drainage, aeration, fertility, and water retention—lead to healthier plants in no-dig gardens.
Healthier plants are more productive and better able to withstand pests and diseases. Meaning no need for pricey pesticides or fertilizers.
Do you want to start your garden but your soil is not ready? Then using this liquid organic feed will be the ticket. It is superior because it not only feeds the plants but helps feed the soil.
Feeding the soil is one of the steps to an easier garden.
The improved habitat provided by no-dig gardens leads to greater biodiversity.
This includes both above-ground biodiversity (a greater variety of plants) and below-ground biodiversity (a greater variety of soil organisms).
Greater biodiversity leads to a more balanced ecosystem and a more productive garden overall.
Increased Carbon Sequestration:
Because no-tillage systems sequester more carbon in the form of organic matter (such as mulch), they have the potential to help mitigate climate change by reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
Improved Mental Health
Studies have shown that spending time in nature can improve mental health.
No-dig gardening allows you to spend time outside enjoying your garden while still getting all the benefits of being in nature.
If gardening is less of a chore then getting out there to enjoy it is more appealing than if you face a weekend of overwhelming garden chores.
Getting out into the garden is one of the best ways to fight SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder.
When you dig up your garden and plant cover crops you create your own mulch.
Many green manures will need to be cut down and the tops can be used as mulch. Lay them on top of the soil.
Some are winter-killed and will flop over the soil to create a mat of organic matter mulching for you and in Spring you simply rake aside areas to plant in the beautiful soil.
Worms will use it as food while turning the soil for you adding their castings and little tunnels that help aerate the soil.
When I don’t plant cover crops I like to use baled alfalfa to layer on my beds as a thick mulch. It breaks down and feeds the soil and the worms.
Overall, there are many benefits to no-dig gardening. If you’re thinking about starting a garden, or if you’re looking for ways to improve your existing garden, consider giving no-dig gardening a try!
You might just be surprised at how much easier and more enjoyable it is than traditional forms of gardening.
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Build Better Soil for a Better Garden!
Building your organic garden soil is essential for long-term gardening success. Here you will learn the best tricks for great garden soil. Beginner gardener friendly!