Saturday, June 13, 2009


Today i attended the first of two days of a permaculture course . We learned lots about Permaculture design, principles, fitting in with the environment and had a great feed to boot!

Part of Permaculture is the concept of No-Dig garden beds, which was started by Australian gardener Esther Dean who as a result of illness was unable to deal with heavy work in the garden and so sought an alternative.

No dig gardening involves creating a garden bed from the ground up using layers of materials which willl eventually support life.

As you can see from the picture above.... it truly does work!

No dig gardening is apealing because it smothers weeds and can virtually be created on any surface, the lawn, sand, or even on top of cement. It can be created from the ground up or in a container. The layered arrangement will also assist soil which is lacking in minerals and nutrients.

It does help if the garden bed is created in an area which doesnt back onto grass or weeds .

How do you build a no dig garden?

Choose your area and clear it . If there is lawn growing there a good move would be to mowe it winthin an inch of its life. Its always best to create a border. From old bricks, recycled railway sleepers, rocks, or even use an old tank the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

It can be plain and functional or pretty and decorative while still being edible. This is totally up to yourself and your desires and what you plant :

To start
  1. 1. a layer of corrugated cardboard or carpet is a great start. These will both breath and allow the soil to breath. Never use plastic as this will ultimately kill the soil. its best to wet each layer as you go.
  2. lay down a layer of nitrogen materials such as manure, vegie scraps, green leaves, blood and bone etc.
  3. then a layer of carbon materials such as lucern, dead leaves, newspaper or cardboard, sawdust, lawn clippings etc.
  4. Remember to water between each layer and alternate the layers of nitrogen with the layers of carbon materials unit its about 80 centremetres deep. A bit like making a lasagne\
  5. The final layer is pea straw, hay or sugar caine mulch.
  6. Sprinkle with a bit of dolomite lime and water in well.
You can plant into it strait away but dont try root crops for a year or so.

A wonderful thing about no dig gardening is it can be created on any surface just about, even if you have a concrete back yard you can still create raised garden beds with the no dig method. After a month or so the layers will settle so add some more mulch and stir it through being careful not to disturb plants.

This method of gardening will encourage worms add water to the soil and as it breaks down over time enrich the soil underneath. Top up with organice compost, manure etc on a seasonal basis and if you started with sad soil this will definitely perk it up, and you will have beautiful veggies!!

So tomorrow ....guess what i'm going to be doing!!!!

Remember comments, new followers and suggestions are always welcome!



  1. Great info. I always enjoy learning new information. Great pictures too. I also love the background color you used on your blog

  2. Good information and I like your blog (I am a person who loves chickens, gardening and I strive to live sustainably).

    I think Esther Dean was more of an advocate for no dig beds as opposed to having invented the process (I think Mother Nature actually did that;). I love the no dig bed and have much better luck with that than trying to scrape away sod and weeds. My best no dig bed, I skipped most of the usually recommended steps and simply mowed the area short and laid a very thick layer of very fresh manure over the top (it was pretty stinky for a couple of weeks). The manure and urine burned away the grass and weeds and broke down into a beautiful loam when it mixed - with no help from me - with my sandy soil.

  3. It's a smart way to garden. I'm growing cougettes on the compost heap, kinda variation on a theme.


  4. Hi.

    Just stumbled across your blog. Love it.

    Have you had a look at yet?

    Lots of people there who would appreciate what you have to say. Over 1000 food gardeners and locavores networking together.

    Ooooby is an acronym for Out of our own back yards.

    Hope you like it.


  5. Great blog. We love the no dig garden method. We did one bed like this last year. Have a great Summer. We hope your garden does a bumper crop for you.

  6. Hi thanks for your comment on my blog, was really nice. As far as no dig goes, I think it is great and have used it alot. I really like wicking beds at the moment.


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