Have you already heard of the no dig method? Gardeners are now buzzing with this new old way of getting their inspiration from nature – and retiring the shovel

The no dig method has been on the lips of everyone following garden trends lately. There is talk of no dig cultivation and no dig benches. The word pair means “not digging” in Finnish.

Although a new term is used, it is not a new issue at all. The method is based on the old nature-friendly permaculture, which has also been practiced under the name of composting.

The method involves leaving the shovel in storage. The country is not being broken. It is not nailed or turned.

An organic gardener and garden editor dedicated to the secrets of an organic garden Heidi Haapalahti says the method mimics nature. New trees grow in the forest without anyone visiting there to plow.

“The popularity of the method is probably based on the fact that it is really convenient and also organic, especially in clay soils. It has become increasingly important for many to cultivate the land without destroying it, ”he says.

Read also: Permaculture seeks controlled chaos – This is a cultivation that mimics wildlife.

Permaculture gardener Ulla-Maija Takkunen has trimmed her benches with tree trunks. Picture from Heidi Haapalahti’s book Organic Gardener. Photo: Teija Tuisku

No dig method in your own garden

In her book Organic Gardener, published in early 2022, Heidi Haapalahti advises building a no dig bench on earth as follows:

  1. Pick up visible weeds and apply a thick layer of compacting decomposing material, such as maple leaves, as a base. Unprocessed cardboard works.
  2. Stack at least a 20-centimeter layer of twigs, sticks and twigs on top of the base.
  3. Cover the branch layer with plant debris, compost, old soil, or organic material in general so that the entire bench becomes about half a meter thick.
  4. Cover the entire splendor with a layer of soil a few inches thick, such as old garden soil. Finally, cover with shredded, hay or straw.
No dig bench

The bottom of the No dig bench is constructed of a dense, slowly decaying material, such as uncoated cardboard, from which any tape has been removed. Picture from the book Organic Gardener. Photo: Teija Tuisku

Haapalahti points out that according to the principles of permaculture, everything that happens to be found in the yard is used for the bench.

“If you don’t happen to have compost, you can put in mowing waste, dried weeds, any decaying organic matter that fertilizes the plants.”

You see a lot of cardboard being used at the bottom, although Haapalahti doesn’t think it’s the best possible material.

“According to permaculture thinking, cardboard should be recycled sooner, and it doesn’t exist in nature, but if you don’t have anything else on hand, using uncoated cardboard isn’t a big sin.”

According to Haapalahti, it would be good to do the bench in the autumn, when the farmer has time and a lot of fallen leaves and other plant waste from the trees. The benefits of spring, on the other hand, are that the compost is full of stuff.

The bench will collapse over time, so a bench that has sunk in the winter can be repaired in the spring.

Read also Anna.fi: This is how you start box cultivation! Setting up a box farm and 5 other tips to help you enjoy your own box harvest next summer.

The no dig bench may look shabby and untidy

From the gardener, the method based on saving the land requires a slightly new kind of attitude, especially if you are used to and liked a very systematic style.

“You have to dare to give up a little on your own standards or controls, because weeds can appear on the bench, and to many eyes, such a raised bench can look ragged and untidy.”

“Yes, I will weed out if we show up. From the no dig bench, they are easily detached by jerking, because the ground stays soft under the cover. They can be left on the bench to dry, ”Heidi Haapalahti advises.

No dig bench needs little maintenance during the growing season. Thanks to the cover, it stays moist, so it does not require as active watering as, for example, a cultivation platform.

In the garden pictures, straw is often seen as a cover for the no dig bench. It’s beautiful, but at least in the cities it’s hard to find.

“Straw itself is not as good as a shredded lawn. There is no nutrient in the straw itself, so it just covers the ground, retains moisture and prevents weeds from getting on the bench, ”Haapalahti points out.


Source: Puutarha – Kotiliesi.fi by kotiliesi.fi.

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