ÁINE TESTING THE NO-DIG METHOD TO PREPARE PASTURE FOR GROWING VEG. – 3rd wk in Nov 2013

The idea of a no-dig way to prepare a pasture for growing field vegetables sounds too good to be true, especially if one has put out the back digging in the past. Áine and myself met the guru of the no-dig method, Charles Dowding, while attending the GIY Gathering in Waterford last October 2013. We bought his book ‘Organic Gardening, The natural no-dig way’. (www.greenbooks.co.uk). Now is the time to put words into action.

Áine and her sprong covering the no-dig beds furthest from the house with manure cardboard and more manure before topping with a black plastic cover.

Áine and her sprong covering the no-dig beds furthest from the house with manure cardboard and more manure before topping with a black plastic cover.

We could be described as a la carte no-diggers. Half of the new veg beds are having their sod turned before covering with manure and the other half (which may be left a year longer before we grow any fruit or veg in it) is being prepared without digging. Before preparing the dig or no-dig beds the bulk of the healthy pasture grass has to be mown or strimmed where it is too thick for the mower. Sheep would have been handy but not available at the time as it so happens.

With the grass cut and removed to be composted, the no-dig beds were marked out and covered, first with manure, then cardboard and the light cardboard was weighed down with more manure. Each bed was then finished off with a re-useable black plastic cover to speed up decomposition, prevent weed seed blowing in and stop leaching of nutrients with rainfall. We are in no hurry to use these beds so after a year or so, we hope the worms and other soil life will have created a vibrant piece of earth in which to sow and plant more fruit and vegetables.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kathryn Marsh on December 16, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    It sounds as though you are going to have a very happy microherd. Just one question – when you strimmed why did you remove the grass for composting rather than simply leaving it as the base layer under the manure and cardboard? or are you talking about mowed grass that was sitting in a grass box on the mower?

    Reply

    • Posted by Trevor Sargent on December 16, 2013 at 6:58 pm

      Hi Kathy,
      The amount of grass was very thick and would have delayed the date for using the patch if we had left it all. Besides that we did not want to rob too much nitrogen from the soil we have, to break down that amount of cut grass. Thirdly most of the grass was in mower box so easy to barrow and collect in compost area or for use as mulch in due course. Fourthly, barrowing loads of stuff is still a bit of a novelty which I expect will change as time goes on!!!

      Reply

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