Making No-dig beds

Similar to the new lasagne beds I made a few months ago/blogposts ago for my tatties this year, creating a new No-Dig bed requires nothing more than a bit of underused space in the garden, some soil or compost, and  some cardboard; preferably large sheets. I called my local bike shop who were very glad to send me away with a few carloads of large bike box sheets.

Over the next few weeks I will hopefully be finished the massive green gym task of changing my veg plot over from raised beds with timber edges and grave paths to no-dig beds. As previously explained this is to try and get on top of the perennial, pernicious weeds (bind weed, mares-tail & couch grass), and to eradicate as much slug & snail habitat as possible.

In the meantime I finally emptied my garden composter, which was around a cubic meter of really delicious soil. I managed to empty four-fifths before disturbing a family of toads so I eft them be at the bottom in their dank, cool, damp, dark burrow. Wonderful slug eaters! I used some of the compost  to add around 5cm layer to each of the tattie beds.  Then, a few days ago on a friend called Jenny birthday, I decided to make a horseshoe shaped bed near the patio and decant the remaining strawberries and herbs from the veg patch: Jenny’s Horseshoe. In a few weeks I’ll add sunflower, nasturtium, borage and calendula seedlings and later this summer it should be a riot of colour.

The first step was laying out and cutting bits of cardboard to the shape I wanted. I will probably make them a bit wider once the large compost delivery arrives. Can you see in the slideshow below that my recently emptied kitchen composter is already over full and spilling over with ruderal plant material. This is because I have been using it for garden and kitchen waste the last month or so, whilst getting around to emptying my garden composter. Bees have moved into it already! Next year I will fully dismantle this composter, remove the water butt (which I use for making comfrey feed), and plant up with either another plum tree or perhaps a magnolia…

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Second step: After I was happy with the shape, I started barrowing, tipping and raking the soil from the garden composter into a 15cm mulch layer over the cardboard. If the weather had been super dry I would have soaked the cardboard first, but the forecast as for rain later in the day so I saved myself a wee step.

Third step: After the soil was moved, I planted up with strawberries and herbs as seen in the slide-show below.

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Final step: I gave it a really good soak with the watering can!

And yet my work was still not complete as I still had a good 3 wheel-barrows of soil left to find home for around the garden! I added the soil to another area of the garden new to this year which I blogged about previously,. This is a large area  previously covered in landscape fabric with a woodchip mulch on top. the woodchip mulch is now in the tattie beds and these new beds a mix of lasagne and no-dig beds.  As time goes on I will add perennial flowers, shrubs and bulbs. For now they have chives, strawberries, oregano, thyme, fennel, a patio apple and a patio pear tree and at the far end a new heather bed.  Not a bad amount of growing space developed out of a year’s worth of compost!

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Published by theplothickens

passionate about permaculture, interested in sharing my experiences of designing my allotment using permaculture principles

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