Permaculture – No Dig Gardens

Gardening turns consumers into small to medium scale producers, who are looking for fresh and nutritious food and want to save money. Depending on your present gardening goals, you will definitely require good water drainage. Some plants can handle excess water while other plants do not. You should always find out beforehand about the drainage requirement for each plant, and make sure there exists a congruency between the plant and the areas you are considering to use for planting.

A simply way to discover the drainage of your garden soil is to dig a hole approximately 25cm (10 inches) deep. Fill it with water, return the next day and fill it up again and if the 2nd fill does not disappear in 10 hours, the soil has a low saturation point and therefore is unacceptable for almost any plant.

To improving the drainage in your garden, it is recommended to create a raised bed or a no-dig garden. Materials that you will need to achieve this are:

  • newspaper
  • hay, or straw, or horse manure (contains nitrogen)
  • compost
  • fertilizer, blood and bone (to improve fertility if soil is sandy and porous)
  • material to make up an edge (e.g. roof tiles, bricks, pavers, wooden planks)

Follow these steps:

  1. Bed Preparations – select an area that offers approx. 4-6 hours of sunlight, clear any grass, weeds, and stones. Water well. Mark out the area that you are going to use.
  2. Secure a border to retain the raised bed using brick, wooden planks, or pavers. Lay the newspaper by overlapping by a third, and water. This the 1st carbon layer.
  3. Make paths using old bricks, wooden planks, or pavers.
  4. Create a 10cm thick nitrogen layer by applying fertilizer, compost, worm castings, manure, blood and bone and water well.
  5. Add a 10cm carbon layer, using mulch/hay/straw/stable sweepings. Water well.
  6. Repeat nitrogen and carbon layers if required. Water well after each layer.
  7. Add sawdust, broken pavers or bricks to the paths.
  8. Plant seedlings – make a small hole in the mulch newspaper deep, fill with compost and plant the seedling or seed into this.

Once you have plants in your new bed, you’ll notice an almost immediate improvement. The added soil facilitates better root development. At the same time, evaporation is prevented and decomposition is discouraged. All of these things added together makes for an ideal environment for almost any plant to grow in. Remember to always take precaution when gardening, wear gloves, wash hands after handing material, protect yourself from sunburn and drink lots of water.

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