What is “No-dig” growing?

No dig growing is fertility building from the top, copying natural processes such as forest leaf litter or animal excretion on pastures, that does not disturb the soil. Not only does it save time and effort through working with nature, but the soil develops its own, healthy, aerated structure that allows vegetables and flowers to grow more easily and weeds grow less.

No-dig growing encourages the works and soil fauna, improves the overall structure of soil, even sticky & heavy clay soils and improves the proliferation of beneficial fungi which helps plants  access the nutrients and moisture they need.

How does it work?

Initially the soil is prepared by adding a layer of organic material to the desired growing area and covering either with black polythene, cardboard, or another material that will block out the light. The area is left for a period of time (3-6 months). In this time, most perennial weeds will be killed off and the worms will have been to work breaking down organic matter. The bed will be ready to used.

Each year, a new layer of compost and/or organic matter is added to the bed, and covered for a period of time, rather than tilling the soil. Year on year the structure of the soil will improve.

Photo: Natty raking out the fertility on the raised beds of horse manure and wood chip. Credit: Rhiannon Marshall