My first real introduction to no dig gardening was when I started working with Charles in his market garden at Lower Farm nine years or so ago. He lived in a nearby village, so I had heard of Charles and his methods (local shops sold his mixed salad leaves too) and borrowed his book Organic Gardening, the Natural No Dig Way from the library but didn’t see it in action until I visited his farm for the job interview – it looked amazing! Learning about Charles’ method through experiencing it, his way of working with the soil and nature felt natural and I was soon wanting to apply the methods to my allotment and garden.
For myself, no dig enabled me to create a really productive allotment and home garden which was very easy to maintain, especially important at that time as I was looking after young children as a lone working parent so anything that saved time was really useful! (I still am a single mum, but my youngest is now almost 18). Growing all that food really helped my budget too. I’ve always used organic methods, so no dig fits with my desire to work with and support nature.
Recently I asked members of our no dig Facebook group why they decided to garden using no dig methods. There are many different reasons: wanting to save time, a deeper connection with nature, physical mobility, it makes sense…. Here are some of the replies:
Flexibility as to growing all year and wide period in which I can apply compost. Labour saving. To fit with my busy life!
Growing healthy biodiverse soil, which means healthy nutrient rich plants and healthy people.
I was convinced by the arguments for preserving and building soil structure rather than starting over again every year. It goes hand in hand with the attraction of growing perennial vegetables.
Initially it was the labour saving element as we took on a plot on pasture with a 3&1 year old in tow!! When I looked into the benefits of maintaining the soil diversity etc there was an “aha!” Moment as it aligned with many of our other values about nature and not messing about with stuff for the sake of it.
Bad back = no digging for me. It’s easier to prepare, plant and manage. Almost always have something edible growing in the food garden (mostly because we changed our attitude to what we could achieve and also added a very small no-dig polytunnel
It was the avoidance of the annual destruction of soil structure that initially attracted me, the fact that after digging, soil needed to re-establish itself before it became an efficient growing medium.
Absolutely building soil structure and protecting soil flora and fauna was the initial impetus. Huge plus is that my site remains unwaterlogged, unlike my neighbouring allotments, throughout the winter!
Likewise on my heavy clay, helps to maintain soil structure.
Simplicity! Plus all the other benefits of keeping soil structure good and looking after nature.
Firstly it was the thought of not having to dig (for my back’s sake) and the time saved in not doing so. Then learnt about benefits to soil health. And then the bonus of time to keep on top of weeds and pests. Plus with Charles’ books the organisation factor of timing and spacing.
Labour saving initially but I’ve seen a great improvement in the soil structure ,would never go back to digging now
Thanks for adding me to this lively and friendly group 🙂 The thing that lured me into No Dig was the promise of a way of making organic food production more productive than conventional farming.
Poor health and a desperate desire to create a new garden nevertheless. More recently an opportunity to show people, via my front garden on a housing trust estate that no dig is possible and productive.
It’s the way nature does it 🙂
Microorganisms! Pure & simple
Weed suppressant with vibrant growth, without the use of petrochemical fuelled machinery. Also potential of a viable business which we now have!
It’s a gentler more graceful way to approach the land. Leaving soil untouched, undisturbed and planting into that life is a respectful way to engage with natures power, beauty and poetry.
Coming from a science background it makes perfect sense if you want a high quality product.
Less weeding and no tilling!!!
When does ‘Mother Nature’ regularly turn the soil upside down. destroying it’s structure and killing many of its inhabitants?
Had been on the allotment list for 3 years and in the meantime did my back in (not gardening) and still wanted to take up the allotment when I got to the top of the list. No-dig is still a lot of work to get established but not such a strain on the old back. It also allows you to potter instead of labour. Plus of course all the benefits of better food.
It promotes healthy soils and in return we benefit in many different ways. it is also sustainable.
Mine was researching how to improve my knowledge and increase my yields. It’s been a learning journey, from just starting to garden, to understanding how to garden. I have become so much more aware of the full growing cycle and what it represents,
Our group is called No Dig Gardening – Undug. There’s a link to it in the sidebar, under no dig links.
Why did you start adopting no dig methods? If you are not no dig, what most appeals to you about it?
9 thoughts on “Why grow No Dig?”
Iv only just started no dig and I love everything about it . It’s working with nature not against her, and my vegetables are comming on lovely and looking really healthy …. and not so much hard work. I would never go back to digging as it all makes sense now. Also the Diary that Charles wrote has helped so much .
Great to hear 🙂
I started a plot about 5 urs ago and the best decision I made was to go ‘no dig’. I hate digging and feel that no did is a much more enjoyable way to grow veg and encourage wildlife friendly gardening. Charles’ books are are huge help and I highly recommend all things no dig
I first started no-dig on my allotment in Bath in 2002. I bought a slim book, called “Growing Fruit & Vegetables on a BED SYSTEM the Organic Way” by Pauline Pears, and never looked back. Fellow allotmenteers thought I was bonkers!
Charles’ books are a huge advance on that one, and much more detailed, inspiring and scientific. It was a joy to discover his work and I bet a lot of those old allotmenteers aren’t laughing now! You don’t need anything else.
However, if anyone is interested in expanding their library, you can usually pick that old book for 1p on Amazon.
Thanks for the book tip!
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