Organic Gardening the Natural No Dig Way

Organic Gardening the Natural No Dig Way

garlicPeople’s lives seem busier than ever nowadays and the home garden can fall by the wayside. It’s too time-consuming with digging, weeding, watering and, for some people, spraying.

Well, what if there was an easier, quicker way to grow your vegetables?  One that requires no digging and little or no weeding? Well, there is: organic gardening the natural no dig way. It  is virtually weed-free and you may find it has fewer pests as well.

There are many ways of setting up a no-dig garden, usually based on the lasagne method of gardening. To save you the effort of searching, I have chosen one that has worked for me. Feel free to modify the instructions to use materials that are available to you.


• Newspaper or cardboard. Flattened packing cartons, with tape and staples removed, are good.
• Straw – pea-straw and lucerne have more nutritious value but any other straw will do. It’s best to avoid hay because that contains grass seeds that would probably germinate and create a weed problem.
• Well-rotted animal manure (don’t use fresh), blood and bone or any other organic fertilizer.
• Good quality compost. Home made is fine.
• Weed-free garden loam and/or good quality potting soil.

Building the Garden

Your garden needs to have at least six hours of sun a day if you are growing vegetables. Prepare your site by levelling it if necessary and removing any perennial weeds such as docks and dandelions. You can leave annual weeds where they are.

Now you need something to hold the growing medium. If you already have a suitable raised bed, that’s great. Otherwise you will need materials to build one. Wood is ideal but it is also expensive. A cheaper method is to use shade cloth, fine netting or thick plastic held in place with stakes. This, however, won’t last as long as more permanent materials. Another alternative is to use several very large containers, i.e. several compartments to your garden.

Adding the Layers 

Once you have the materials assembled you can start making the layers that will provide the growing medium for your garden.

• Place wet newspapers and/or cardboard on the ground to a thickness of 50mm (2in).
• Add a layer of straw. This, added to the paper, should bring the level of the filling to about one-third of the height of the sides. Sprinkle it with blood and bone or your choice of organic fertilizer and cover that with the well-rotted manure.
• Mix the compost with the loam or potting mix, about one-third compost and two-thirds loam or potting mix. Fill the garden bed with this. It will compact within a few days and you may need to add more. I suggest you water the bed lightly once you have filled it.

Let the garden bed stand for a few days, top it up and it will be ready for planting. If you build the garden during winter you can let it stand until planting time. If the materials you use contain no weed seeds your garden will be virtually weed free. However the actions of wind and birds may result in the odd weed appearing from time to time.

You need to invest time and effort in the construction of the garden but after that you’ll find it doesn’t need much work. Adding a mulch to the surface will reduce the amount of watering necessary. I add some organic fertilizer about once a month, just as I do to conventional gardens.


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