Gardening, like other aspects of daily life, requires us to make choices as to our way of doing things.
We learn by experience what works best for us and subsequently our gardens. Garden practices change over time. Theories once in vogue are no longer so; old ways become new again.
This brings me to the no-dig, no-till method of gardening.
Many of us love to dig in the dirt, turning over the soil, working in compost, manure, peat. It’s a satisfying thing to see our garden beds freshly dug in the spring, but it’s time consuming, backbreaking work that may not be necessary.
Mother Nature uses the no-dig method, while farmers till the soil before planting. Is there a right and wrong here? Is one way better than another?
No-dig advocates advise us against disturbing the soil and so protecting the complex underground environment for the benefit of the plants we grow. Digging into the soil disrupts the natural healthy soil structure and can lead to soil compaction, erosion and brings dormant weed seeds to the surface.
Heavy mulching is the key factor in making this method a success. Layering the soil with straw, chipped leaves, compost, manure and other soil amendments such as lime and seaweed nourishes the soil from the top down and allows the earth worms and beneficial soil fungi to do the work for us.
This method disturbs the soil only enough to allow for planting. The mulch helps keep the soil moist, so it saves on watering and weeding is largely eliminated.
I’d say it might be worth a try.
Growing Green is a regular feature prepared by the Mount Hamilton Horticultural Society (gardenontario.org/site.php/mhhs). Helen MacPherson, vice-president of the society, wrote this report.