Creating a no-dig raised vegetable garden is one of the quickest and easiest way to start your own productive vegetable patch. Basically a no-dig garden is made by layering compostable materials upward to create a nutrient rich compost which your plants will love.
Advantages of a no-dig raised garden
- They are great for people with back problems as you don’t need to bend as far to tend and harvest your garden
- The raised edges keep you four legged friends and other garden critters out
- The ‘soil’ you are creating after the materials break down will be very fertile and will produce lush healthy plants
- It absorbs and retains moisture much more effectively than in-the-ground planting
- It also discourages weed growth which can save you so much time
- For those of us with snail and slug problems you can stick some copper tape around the ‘walls’ of the garden which the snails will not climb over.
How to make your garden
1. Mark out the area you want your vegetable garden to cover. Try not to make it too wide as you want to be able to reach all the plants from around the outside of the bed so you don’t have to stand on the bed itself which will avoid compacting the ‘soil’.
2. Create a containment wall around your garden. This could be with timber, rocks, bricks, hay bales or whatever material is available. You can even purchase preformed ones at garden centers that you can just assemble quickly.
3. Cover the entire bed with newspapers, 6 layers thick, and water well. This will ensure that the grass underneath will die. Alternatively you can also put down a layer of plain cardboard .
4. Then put in a layer of lucerne hay, pea straw or even sugar cane mulch.
5. Now add a layer of manure – cow, sheep or chicken – whatever you prefer. Or you could use blood and bone.
6. Then its just a case of continuing with the layering of straw and manure finishing with a layer of straw which acts as a mulch. You can also add some compost in between the straw layers to increase the ‘richness’ of the soil.
7. When you’re ready to plant, make a hole in the top layer of mulch, add some good compost to the hole, plant your seedling and water well. It’s not advisable to grow root crops such as potatoes, carrots or beetroot in the first year until the materials have had a chance to breakdown. Best to plant either green leafy vegetables like spinach, swiss chard and lettuce or vegetables which produce ‘fruit’ like tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn, peppers and beans.
Remember that as the material in your garden breaks down the height of the bed will lower. You can raise the height by adding more layers after you’ve harvested your first crop before planting the next.
Another suggestion would be to install an irrigation system in your garden beds and attach it to a timer. A drip or a small sprayer system would be ideal. Then its just a case of setting the timer and your garden beds will be watered automatically. Or if you don’t want to worry about a timer you can just attach the watering system to a tap and remember to turn it on for a little while every morning if there is no rain indicated for the day.
Now, with a no-dig raised vegetable garden, everyone can enjoy a bounty of fresh home grown vegetables without the fuss of having to prepare the ground first.