To dig or not to dig – That is the ?

Beginners Guide to no dig

by Charles Dowding

Fewer weeds, save time.

A large part of no dig’s success is to do with the relative absence of weeds. You save so much time, and are free to be more creative, with less of the constant need to weed. Incidentally I love wild areas and buzzing wildlife, but am not a fan of weeds in the veg patch or flower borders. They can easily go from just a few, to swamping all other growth, especially new sowings and plantings. No dig makes it possible to enjoy a clean garden with mixed plantings, beautiful and productive, full of wildlife too – especially in the soil.

  • Whenever soil has been dug, loosened or turned over, it recovers from the disruption by re-covering with weed growth – both from roots of perennial weeds and seeds of annuals.
  • When left uncultivated/undisturbed/no dig, soil has less need to recover and grows fewer weeds, as shown by a look at Homeacres at any time of year. Check out the growing number of no dig gardens and allotments too.
  • No dig soil is full of beneficial organisms and microbes, which help plants to find nutrients and moisture, and convey health to the gardener, for example by feeding his/her gut biome.

There are always a few new weeds, from seeds blowing in or brought in with composts, and they need removing by hand when small, or hoeing off as tiny seedlings. It is a little and often approach. Vegetable growing is bountiful and easier when weeding is just a small issue, still necessary but taking less time.

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Printed here with permission from Charles Dowding

2 thoughts on “To dig or not to dig – That is the ?”

  1. Think I’m going to become a quick fan of no dig method following my hip op. How do you cope with potato sowing. My method was taught me by an old Irish man in Cheshire. It involves a trench with various layers of compost, muck, green waste with each layer separated by a good left wing newspaper…farmers guardian was our choice! So it’s like an underground multi layer sandwich. Anyway, the method produces excellent results, no blight and plenty of tubers, even in dry conditions.

    • Peter. I couldn’t be bothered with all that work. This year I simply laid my seed potato on the ground and covered it with either straw, hay or grass cuttings. I had what I considered to be a decent harvest with minimal effort. To harvest you just scrape away the mulch and pick up the potatoes. That way you are not disturbing the soil. I will never dig any more potatoes having discovered the no-dig method.


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