Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Don't Dig!

Every autumn on our site I see fellow allotmenteers stumbling up and down the paths, taking a break from their ritual seasonal digging. Usually they're groaning, if not in some sort of physical pain! The question is...


Alright, I understand some people LIKE digging. Good luck to them and if they really need the extra exercise, then fine.

But some of the finest organic gardeners like CHARLES DOWDING haven't DUG for the past TWENTY FIVE YEARS.

If the NO-DIG approach is good enough for a highly successful organic market gardener like Charles, then it's good enough for me!

Here's how I went about establishing my own no-dig system in brief:

Using a LOOSEN and LIFT system I removed all the perennial weeds I could find (things like dandelions, nettles and thistles) with a fork.

I don't intend to DIG OVER my plot ever again now that the majority of these weeds are out. All the evidence I've found (including my own practical experience) tells me that digging can actually INCREASE the rate at which weeds regrow, and it can actually DAMAGE rather than IMPROVE the soil structure. So I now use mulching to keep the weeds down. (I'll come back to this one)

As you can see from previous posts - I'm raising my own plug plants at home to plant out, so I rarely need the 'fine tilth' that mainstream gardening books often speak about. (When the small plants are planted out, they are generally sturdy enough to copy with larger soil particles). In the main I would spend the time having a break - sitting on my deck chair and letting the WORMS do the hard work.

To those who remain sceptics I'd say - spend some time with Charles Dowding's site Don't knock it until you've tried it and you could save yourself a lot of time and trouble!

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