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I live in the inner west of Sydney and try to grow as much food as I can in a tiny space. The garden is a wonderful little green space that changes with the seasons. This blog is about the garden but also plots my efforts to live simply - buy less, grow more, love lots, build community, tread lightly and eat good food.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The final straw

Making a no dig garden always looks so easy on TV and in gardening books.  And it is easy, IF you have access to the right ingredients.  The fact is though, that living in the city in a small space, the phrase 'whatever you have available' is usually what you can buy at the garden centre.  I have made a few no dig garden beds, and each time have found that they have been pretty pricey.  Substantially more expensive than say, getting a load of garden soil/manure delivered.  And they haven't been all that successful.  I have wondered if the problem was not being able to get a big bale of decent straw.

This year I have been buying in bulk.  When I get my firewood delivered, I also get a couple of bales of straw, between 1/2 and 1 cubic metre of manure, massive bags of potash etc.  We have moved things around in our yard and shed to store it.  I have found that when you use enough straw, manure etc. a no dig garden is (1) cheap, (2) easy to build and (3) actually works!  My plants are going crazy in the no dig garden beds and topping them up will be easy because I just throw on some more manure/compost and straw.  Although my technique is that they are no dig for a season, and then when they break down I dig them over and treat it just like soil. 

So in my humble opinion, I reckon that the no dig method is worth it if you have ingredients in bulk but not worth the money or hassle if you are buying by the bag from a nursery.  I'd love to hear what other people's techniques with no dig gardens are.  Do you keep them as no dig long term? What do you use?

No dig garden being watered in, layer after layer.  Straw, manure, compost, bit of seaweed, comfrey, worm castings....then repeat.

A new seedling planted straight in a little pouch of compost

A couple of months ago - the newly created no dig bed...  

A happy dwarf pumpkin

Sweet potato

Basil and sunflowers seem to be thriving in the no dig bed too (although I wondered if the straw would be too coarse...they seem to be fine).