No Dig Gardening

Posted on 31 August 2009 by


No dig gardening sounds like a bit of a misnomer when you apply it to pots, since they don’t usually require digging anyway. This method isn’t simply way to avoid digging though. It’s a way to create soil. It involves layering nitrogen rich and carbon rich organic materials alternately to make compost.


In my pots I used pea straw as my carbon rich material, alternating with nitrogen rich mushroom compost. Manure is another good nitrogen layer. I supplemented this with a handful of blood and bone and some seaweed (which was a gift from a friend with a lakefront house). To start the process the materials are layered alternately into the pot, with the carbon rich mulch layers about 5 cm thick and the nitrogen rich layers just thick enough to cover the straw.


In time the layers of mulch and manure will compost into a very rich soil. The only problem with the composting is that the volume in the pots will sink considerably over time, so top them up with new layers as they sink.


Spring is a very exciting time in the garden, as you harvest the last of your winter crops and plan your new plantings for summer. This spring I’ve had some great results from my no dig pots, with my pea plants climbing right along the balcony. Pea flowers have such a fragile beauty, and the sweet crunch of sugar snap peas has been a delight. I’ve eaten a lot of them straight off the vine!


While you’re enjoying your spring harvest, it’s time to plan what you want to be harvesting around Christmas time. In Sydney it is warm enough to start planning (and planting) your summer garden. Currently in my germination box are Tiny Tim Tomatoes, Jimmy Nardello Capsicum, Lemon Cucumber and Purple King Beans. When I’m growing seedlings I often swap with Alloronan so we can try more varieties. She recently gave me a baby rhubarb in a pot big enough for it to grow to full size. I hope it will be an edible present soon.


I hope you’re enjoying spring. Remember to admire the flowers in your garden, and your neighbours’ gardens, and enjoy the last of your winter veggies. It’s also time to plan for summer, so have fun with your seed catalogues and let me know what you’re up to.

Fact sheet on No Dig Gardening from the Watershed
More elaborate version from Gardening Australia.

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Posted in: Food gardening