A no-dig garden is a fast and easy way to grow vegies in your own backyard
If you want to live more sustainably — and experience the sense of satisfaction that comes with cooking a meal made with home-grown produce — a veggie garden is what you need. If you don’t have a lot of space, you can grow vegies in pots. If you have space but don’t fancy tilling the soil, you can create a no-dig vegie garden.
A no-dig garden is constructed aboveground using layers of nutrient-rich materials, not soil. It is:
• Easy to set up and requires very little ongoing maintenance
• Saves on water and fertiliser
• Has the potential to fully recycle kitchen scraps and garden waste
• Can be built as a garden bed or in any container to any shape or size
The following guide, kindly supplied by Sustainable Gardening Australia, talks you through the basics of creating your own no-dig vegie garden.
How to build a no-dig garden on an existing lawn or soil:
1. Mark out and form the walls of the no-dig garden. The walls should be at least 20cm high, but may be a lot higher. You can use anything including old rocks or sleepers, bricks, blocks or pavers.
2. Line the base with a 3mm–5mm thickness of newspaper to suppress weeds and wet thoroughly.
3. The idea is to then to stack alternating layers of fine and coarse compostable materials. For example, start with a layer of pea straw, follow with a thin layer of cow manure, then a layer of compost. Repeat the layers finishing with a thick compost layer.
4. Planting can be done into the top compost layer. Trowel a small hole to fit the seedlings in and plant. Water well. The plant will eventually establish a strong root system in its nutritional base.
5. As the seedlings grow and the layers rot down, top up with more layers of manure and compost.
6. Mulch around your seedlings well with a pea straw and dig this into the soil as it rots down before topping the mulch up.
You can also build a no-dig garden in a large container, simply do the same as above, but omit the first step.
To build a no dig garden on a sealed surface:
1. Mark out the size of the beds and construct the sides. If using bricks, sleepers or other rectangular-shaped materials, make sure you leave some gaps for drainage. The walls should be at least 50cm high.
2. Place a 7mm–10mm layer of coarse screenings or scoria at the base for drainage.
3. Layer the materials as listed above in step 3 of ‘how to build a no-dig garden on an existing lawn or soil’
4. Plant the bed.
5. Top up the layers as they rot down.
Sustainable Gardening Australia is a non-profit organisation dedicated to raising awareness about the environmental consequences of conventional gardening practices and provides sustainable alternatives. Its website contains a wealth of information on sustainable home gardening practices, including no-dig gardens. For more information: www.sgaonline.org.au