Preparing the garden for spring – without digging

Gardeners have long been told that digging soil over winter will improve its quality. However, soil is teaming with life, including microorganisms, fungi, worms and much more. Digging soil disturbs life and damages soil structure, which in turn leads to soil erosion. 

What’s more, the underground ecosystem is highly complex, and we are only just beginning to understand it. As we are learning the hard way from the climate crisis, it’s generally best not to meddle too much with natural systems if we don’t understand how they work. By leaving the soil alone, we can support the soil life which underpins plant health – and save time! More info here.

Creating ‘No Dig’ Garden Beds Using Compost:

1. Clear plant residues and weeds – if very weedy, lay cardboard.

2. Mulch (cover) the bed surface with 3-5cm of organic matter. Decomposed organic matter (compost) will harbour fewer slugs than undecomposed organic matter (like woodchip or leaves). 

3. Cover paths with cardboard (to kill weeds) and top with 3-4cm of compost or wood chips (ideally partly decomposed already). 

Sourcing mulch/ compost

You can use compost from a variety of materials, including food and green waste, woody materials (like wood chip), animal manure and autumn leaves. See here for our how-to guide.

If you can’t make enough, it’s worth buying extra in for the extra fertility it will bring to your soil. It’s best to use old compost, as opposed to fresh, steaming compost.

How to clear weeds using compost and cardboard:

How to make a no dig raised bed with compost:

Useful resources on no dig

If you want to find out more about the no dig method, check out this interview with Charles Dowding, an expert on organic growing and ‘no dig’. You can also listen to Dowding discuss no dig, composting and organic methods on the Garden Organic podcast series.

If you want to give it a go, have a look at this beginner’s guide to no dig. Dowding has also written a practical and accessible book on the topic, No Dig Organic Home and Garden’ 

Ten ways to stop wasting bananas …and the peel

In the UK we waste 920,000 bananas every single day.1 Each year 3,000 hectares of land1 and 330 billion litres of water1 is used to grow bananas that we throw away! Below are some ideas to make better use of your bananas and the peels. 1. Just eat them  Perhaps you prefer yellow or even…

The elusive last frost

Frost occurs when the temperature of the air or the ground falls below zero degrees Celsius.  Gardeners need to know the last and first frost dates of the year in order to protect tender plants.  The last frost date refers to the final spring frost of the year; the first frost date refers to the…

Why pulses are good for you and the planet?

Pulses are the dried edible seeds of plants in the legume family. They include peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas. Pulses have been eaten for around 10,000 years and are one of the most widely used foods in the world1. They are cheap, nutritious and versatile, so it’s no surprise that campaigns like ‘Beans is How’…

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