If you’re one of those people who think that growing your own vegetables is too much like hard work, think again.
All that digging, ploughing and weeding our forefathers went through belongs to a system of gardening and farming that need not be followed so strictly these days.
There are a number of no dig vegetable garden options that may suit you and which will provide you with all the organic home grown goodness and none of the hard work.
The typical no dig vegetable garden does actually require a little manual labour, but only at the beginning of the project. After that, it’s easy.
This system relies on you creating a bed of mulch, manures and compost etc, that will breakdown over time and turn into a nutrient rich soil far more beneficial than the sods you may have turned the old fashioned way.
To make a no dig vegetable garden, choose a spot that gets at least six hours of sun per day. It doesn’t even have to be on dirt. It can be on concrete, on rock, on gravel, as well as on grass or earth.
If you’d like an edge to keep things neat, by all means go ahead and build one – about one foot high will be enough – or just let the bed trail down at the edges.
Collect a lot of newspaper, wet it thoroughly, and lay it down over the ground at least six sheets thick. This will kill any grass or weeds underneath and prevent them growing through your new garden.
On top of the newspaper throw any organic matter you have lying around – sticks, branches, autumn leaves, grass clippings. They’ll all break down eventually. Spread a thick layer of lucerne on top of this, and then a substantial layer of manure and compost.
At the very top goes a layer of mulch – straw, hay, sugar cane trash etc – and you’re ready to plant. Give the whole bed a very good soaking and plant seedlings (not seeds) into the compost layer below the mulch.
For the first few weeks, your seedlings may need slightly more water and liquid fertilizer than usual, but at least you’ll never need to weed!
After your first season with the no dig vegetable garden bed, simply top it up with more compost, more manure and more mulch on top. Whatever you do, don’t dig! Digging or ploughing will do far more harm than good, and besides, it’s just the type of hard work you’re trying to avoid.
An even easier no dig vegetable garden method is for the completely lazy gardener. For this you’ll need a sheet of weed-mat (the good stuff that doesn’t smother the soil) the same size as the size you’d like your vegetable garden to be.
Three weeks before planting time, lay the weed mat over the area you’ve chosen. Put some rocks on the edges to stop it blowing away. Don’t bother to remove the grass first – after three weeks the weed mat will have killed it for you.
Cut some small holes in the mat and plant your seedlings in the holes. The vegetables will grow well due to the added nutrients from the decomposing grass and the weed mat means you’ll never have to weed. At the end of the season, roll up your weed mat and save it for next year.
Another no dig vegetable garden method is the radish garden. Radishes will grow at much lower temperatures than other veggies, so start this three to four weeks before it’s time to plant everything else.
You’ll need an extremely large amount of radish seeds, so best to save the seeds yourself otherwise it can be a little expensive. Very lightly chip the soil where you want your vegetable garden to be and spread radish seed very thickly over the entire area.
Water well and ignore until three weeks later when the radishes are starting to get big. Then pull out the entire lot and plant into the now loosened soil. Use the excess radishes as mulch, chicken food, or add them to your compost heap.