Making plot digging manageable, the ‘jigsaw’ approach – 1st wk in Nov. 2013

There is a piece of advice out there which says the best way to eat an elephant is one mouthful at a time, or words to that effect. Well, when you look out at an acre of overgrown shrub and grassland, the same principle applies to turn all that into an organic kitchen garden. A number of sods turned makes a ready to use plot, a number of barrow loads of manure makes a longer term no-dig plot, and a number of plots side by side make a kitchen garden – eventually! No elephant ( or gardener, hopefully) will be hurt in the making of this garden. Atleast, that is the plan.

Each plot starts off a little like a jigsaw making exercise. The edge sods are removed first so that the size and shape of the eventual plot becomes visible. These removed sods are then removed by wheelbarrow and

The border sods removed show the plot shape. The adjacent plot is a no-dig version, manure on to of cardboard on top of strimmed down pasture.

Border sods removed shows the plot shape. The adjacent plot is a no-dig version, manure on top of cardboard,on top of strimmed down pasture.

stacked grass side down so they can compost and become a rich heap of loamy soil to be returned as such to the plots from whence they were taken.  Áine has developed a less laborious way to turn over the remaining sods in the plot. More of that anon.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kathryn Marsh on December 13, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I hope you are covering up that lovely manure once you’ve spread it – from experience the weeds will not only get through it but really get a hold in it if you don’t. If any of your new neighbours has damaged silage covers they work brilliantly – by sowing time the sod will be rotting down nicely.

    We’ve found simply turning on sod over on top of another and covering as above – sort of lazy bed – makes for wonderfully fertile raised beds and cuts down on the labour since you don’t have to take them far. I think you saw them done this way many years back at our place.

    It sounds as though the pair of you are having great craic in your new home and garden – I look forward to the story continuing (hopefully with more barn owls than there are left around here – we seem to manage rodent control fairly well without poison)


    • Posted by Trevor Sargent on December 16, 2013 at 10:59 am

      Hi Kathy,
      Thanks for your thoughts on the lovely manure. We will indeed cover the manure once spread, even though Charles Dowding, the no-dig guru, (, does not bother. Covering makes sense if one can manage it, I think like yourself. I’m just doing blog on this and another on the non-use of rat poison in our situation also. I accept that responsible use of poison for some is a last resort, but best avoided for the sake of encouraging a balanced biodiversity. Hope you are keeping well there. Regards to Michael and family.


      • Posted by Kathryn Marsh on December 16, 2013 at 12:55 pm

        Charles isn’t starting from a field covered with grasses and more determined intruders and I’ve been known to mutter about leaching nutrients when reading his books – which are otherwise excellent which is why they are in the Sonairte shop. As you say, it’s that word “responsible” that one must use when discussing the use of poison. All too often people have rodents around because they leave rodent food exposed. I have a couple of old dead freezers which make perfect apple stores or hen food stores. Re-using like this has kept them out of landfill for thirty years now and I see no indication that they won’t see my out 🙂
        I’m really looking forward to reading of the adventures of Trevor and Aine in such an idyllic spot

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