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No Dig Approach

Discussion in 'Allotments Discussion' started by Tinker86, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. Tinker86

    Tinker86 Gardener

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    Has anyone had a go at the 'no dig' approach?

    I've been looking into it a lot lately and obviously all of those online that champion it, usually have some kind of horticultural school that they are also trying to plug, so of course they are going to praise the approach.

    I'm hoping one of you wiley lot have had a go.

    From my findings it actually does make sense. It comes down to not disturbing the soil. The structure takes a long time to form, so going in and tilling and turning it all disturbs what has formed. If you think of natural habitats which grow abundantly, nobody goes in and tills it, nature takes its course.

    Weeds would be my only worry but the advice is to cover with black sheeting so that they die down and then cover what has died with a small amount (2 inches) of well rotted muck and compost mulch mix. Then recover again with the plastic. The area is then ready.

    I'm just curious as to whether it works well or not. So if anyone is in the know, please give me a shout. Cheers!
     
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    • Verdun

      Verdun Passionate gardener

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      Hiya Tinker, no dig for me :)
      Been no dig for several years now...before that lots of manure, etc turned in.
      I have added tons of mushroom compost, seaweed (wonderful stuff and I used a great deal of it) manure and garden compost in autumn and cultivate it in spring.
      I use no dig for veg and ornamentals. The only exception is the runner bean trench where I turn in lots of garden compost in the autumn
      Of course, when planting things I dig in manure, compost etc. but mulching thereafter is part and parcel of how I garden.
      I think enriching the top few inches every year makes for great soil and the worms incorporate it as they do to make it healthy.
      I dont use artificial fertilisers except for plants in pots where I use tomato food.....fish blood and bone, chicken pellets and dried manure are used instead.
      I use slug pellets only very sparingly now and again with a view to protect animals and birds, and rarely use chemicals
      It works well for me.
      I do not like plastic mulches, weed membrane or ugly carpets smothering the ground. I think these deprive the soil of life and air and access by the birds. And, as I said, they look ugly
      Hope this helps Tinker :)
       
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      • Snorky85

        Snorky85 Total Gardener

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        Hello both, just wondering what your soil type is @Verdun ? I think the chappy who owned my house before me used a no dig approach...he'd just lightly hoe over but the ground is so heavy clay that it was baked solid hard. I had a right game to get a fork in to plant anything new which is why I practically started over again and dug it all over and mulched etc over winter.
         
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        • Verdun

          Verdun Passionate gardener

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          Hello Snorky
          No, I have a rich sandy loam but it was "prepared" before no dig. You have to dig deep, remove stones, roots, etc., and incorporate plenty of organic matter first. Thereafter it is simply mulching the soil.
          No dig for me is excellent....I grow things pretty well from veg and fruit to ornamentals :)
           
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          • Tinker86

            Tinker86 Gardener

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            I'm sorry for the delayed reply @Verdun

            I am glad to hear you take this approach and have done now for a while. I do think it's going to be my route for planting from now on. The above I mentioned, about keeping in tact soil structure just seems to make a lot of sense to me, also in terms of my allotment, it's more a space for my stomach with a small section of flowers, it's not an ornamental space, so that rough around the edges look, isn't going to put me off either.

            I have to completely agree about plastic sheeting. I see no dig as quite a natural gardening approach. Plastic sheeting just doesn't slot into that very well. But what I will say is, for those people who want to take the no dig approach, who don't have the means or money to buy in large quantities of mulch to suppress weed growth while avoiding digging, maybe an initial season taking the plastic route with a thin layer of manure and compost mulch, while at the same time getting busy with their own home compost, could then put them in good stead the following year by removing the previous years plastic.
             
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            • Tinker86

              Tinker86 Gardener

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              Good morning GCs very own celebrity haha

              My allotment plot as you can imagine, from previous tenants hard work feeding and turning the soil makes it a cracking medium. That's really why I am considering the no dig direction.

              But living in a big city, in my home garden, I have to turn it each year and add my own compost because when I first moved here it was very heavy clay. The good light stuff that I've added needs less and less top up each year. But I do use a lot of big pots at home too.
               
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