Veg plot 2021: Going “no dig”

It’s very early to be thinking about next year’s veg plot now perhaps, but I think I might need to.

I’d heard about “no dig” gardening a few times and a couple of local farmers seem to be doing well by moving to “minimal till” agriculture so I thought I’d try to find out a bit more. Eventually that turned up links to Charles Dowding’s youtube channel which makes for interesting watching. I bought one of his books and having read it I think I’m going to give it a go next year.

I should point out that I don’t agree with everything he writes. The stuff about planting according to the cycles of the Moon and other astrological drivel is utter rubbish. Ill thought-out and unjustifiable hogwash masquerading as science. I have no time for it. His ideas about cultivation and raising plants in pots to plant out immediately a previous crop finishes however seem to be worth a try. I think I shall stick with rotating my crops too, as I have the space. And yes, I like the idea of not having to dig from the point of view of reducing ground preparation time, too.

So, my idea for next year is to turn my 14m x 12m plot into seven beds as 1.2m wide strips with a 0.6m path between them. I might use a little more space and go for an eighth strip. I’m not sure. The paths will be covered with woodchip and then I need to add a large amount of compost for the beds. In fact, far more compost than we’ll create in total this year. To that end I started looking around for compost in large volumes. Some of the DIY sheds appear to do it in dumpy bags, but actually they didn’t look an awful lot cheaper than 40l bags from the local garden centre. Then I found that the people who handle the green waste for the local council sell it in volume and will deliver. I got a few opinions and whilst there were warnings that it might contain a lot of rubbish that wasn’t compost I found that local farmers do use it, so eventually I decided to order six tonnes for delivery, which worked out at £30/tonne plus £84 for delivery.

There’s still much more to do though. I think a far greater level of planning is required if you wish to get more than one crop out of the available space each year and I need to organise what can be planted after what else and when it needs to be sown so it is ready to go out at the right time. It’s all a big experiment, but I’m quite looking forward to it.

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