Aussies Living Simply

Pride before the fall

Home Forums FOOD PRODUCTION, HARVEST AND STORAGE Vegetables Pride before the fall

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 29 total)
  • Author
  • #239101

    Im a proud man, and as the say, pride comes before a fall, so I eat humble pie a fair bit too…

    I have finally succumbed to the no-dig school of thought and started building some no dig beds.

    I have always considered “no-dig” to equal “lazy” “the hippy method” and “glorified container gardening” and looked down my noise at it despite the obvious benefits. I figured the same results can be achieved in a regular “dig” type garden bed.

    Besides I like digging.

    I used to dig my beds twice.

    Its fun.

    But the simple fact is, after pouring $$$$ worth of manure, hay and mulch into my clay..I mean soil, it is still hard and unforgiving in most spots and sorta nice in some. Which led me to think “why do I even bother”.

    This year I hardly grew anything at all. A couple of Tomatoes and some sunflowers. I planted some other things as well, but they died. Im not a gardener, Im a plant murderer 😡

    The possums ate the sunflowers and the birds ate the tomatoes so I was pretty bummed about the whole vegie thing. I couldn’t beat the drought and ravaging hordes of wildlife stole my tiny success. And I killed my tiny fruit trees.

    So anyway I was Having a winge about the whole thing to my Mum who said ” Son you’ve got to build up your beds. That’s what my Dad did and we lived of our vegie patch”

    It Got me thinking…

    My Grandfather was not lazy or a hippy…

    He was poor and needed to grow food to feed his mob…

    Maybe a “No-Dig” garden is the best way to do “it” here…

    Agghhhh! I hate being wrong!

    So anyway I guess this is a long winded way of saying once again Im eating my words, my hat and my humble pie and trying some raised no dig beds.

    Attached is what I am building. I have not mesured them but they are largish 😉

    There will be a steel post at each join in the sleepers for attaching shade or fencing to exclude chooks or trellises to.

    Over the coming months I will probable be filling them with a mix of cotton trash manure and assorted garden waste.

    Any Hints for a recent covert/hertic?


    Humble pie can be remarkably freeing Kimble.. :hug: Enjoy all your lovely veggies.


    I like growing in soil too but you’ve got to have good soil or else it’s just a waste of time. The only no dig gardening I’ve done are my potato cages and they work well, you do get better, and more, potatoes in the ground though. But having said all that, I have friends who have no dig beds and they work a treat. Who knows, after a couple of years of no dig, you might well have built up your soil with organic matter and worms and you’ll be able to dig again. But in the meantime, I reckon you work with what you’ve got. Good luck, kimble.

    BTW, that brick wall will be a good heat bank for your winter nights.


    that is some nasty looking hard stuff you got there… I like digging to… I have dug in a heap of wheat straw, ash and coal… no my soil is great… I have found, the wheat straw akes a lot longer to break down, so it has been good to keep the soil from getting to hard.


    Kimble, I think raised beds are excellent in regards to drainage, and the layers of “stuff” can only be good for building up the soil quality to grow your vegies in. It all ends up as soil/organic matter over time anyway.

    I had good soil to begin with anyway, however with all I’ve added over even just a couple of years with a vague rotational garden bed system, you should see it now. “Garden scraps” and mulchy stuff helps shade the soil, cool the roots, retain the water, so it becomes a multi purpose material. Plus with those layers, it’s less likely that weeds will grow. Weeds springs up like, well, weeds, when there’s nothing but bare soil! And if any weeds dare poke their heads through the layers they weaken over time and are easier to pull out.

    I used a lasagne/layered/no dig arrangement here because I wanted vegie beds in a hurry and didn’t want to have to dig them all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not adverse to digging, it’s just that we’d already moved the vegie garden from one side of the house to the other and I wanted to get it done and get planting – like yesterday!

    My raised beds aren’t so raised as yet, about the same height as yours. We used lengths of hardwood timber bolted together with the view to going up another couple of layers – just haven’t got round to it… yet.


    Whilst it was initially a no dig garden I have planted green manure crops inbetween food crops and experimented with slashing that down or digging it in. I do dig, still, and particularly after an accident a year ago when I was laid up in plaster and couldn’t garden and no-one else did either, I had a vegie garden overrun with pumpkins and weeds and kikuyu which took a lot of digging and pulling and resurrecting to get where it is now.

    I still dig occasionally, it’s just that I don’t like to do it toooo much and disturb the worms and little beasties underground. I use daikon radishes and grow them very large to help me dig down too, which in turn feeds some animals when I pull them out.

    When you say “cotton trash mixture”, any chance there are some nasty chemicals in that which in turn wouldn’t be so advisable to put on your vegie beds? Just a thought….

    Wade through all that if you can…



    When you say “cotton trash mixture”, any chance there are some nasty chemicals in that which in turn wouldn’t be so advisable to put on your vegie beds? Just a thought….

    The trash is five years old and very much resembles crumbly black soil so Im happy that the amount of residual chems are minimal to zero.

    I live in a cotton growing area so the chems are probably already in the garden so I dont sweat it.


    Re cotton trash

    Okie-doh… probably alright, then.

    Have fun with your new garden beds.


    Kimble. These beds are the same as mine with similar sub-soil. I dug up the clay to about 9 cm to assist in soakage under the bed. Put in some gypsum to assist with the clay. Added some blood & bone, a pile of home grown compost and a couple of trailer loads of the scrappings from the local sheep yards. Cheated a bit and bought some loam to mix it all through with. Covered with heaps of mulch and planted the vegies. Growing well.


    I was the same kimble, started with dig, dig, dig and I am suprised and delighted with the results. If anything I would instead of mowing the grass short, dig it out to begin with and then start the no dig bed. I have had a problem with kikuyu in no dig beds which I am sure would

    have been avoided with the initial digging.


    ’cause it’s the lazy method kimble,

    else we wouldn’t do it hey lol.

    dunno ’bout hippy but huh?

    but it fits into the productivity side of permaculture, and into the keep it simple side of living simply.



    I have had vegie patch’s done the conventional way & they were great. This season I put in a ‘no dig’ vege patch, & it’s great ! Next year I’ll prolly have a combination of both !!

    I like the dig garden cos, it’s easier to grow carrots, beetroot, onions, etc. For eveything else the ‘no dig’ garden works a treat. And my motto is, if you can save a bit of time & energy, why not ?


    I usually make the ND garden beds straight on top on the couch grass. I just put down the sleepers and stake them into place and then line the whole thing with thick layers of newspaper and wet it and add whatever I have lying around (that has once lived). This is mainly used bedding hay out of the guinea pig’s cages but I have been known to throw in dead mop heads, old cotton rugs and stuff like that as well. This year I used pea straw as the final layer but I don’t think I’ll use it again as the pea plants sprouted up at the same time as my seeds did and I found myself pulling out pea plants constantly because they were smothering the other plants. I like using plain straw as the final layer better.

    So anyway, I just fill up the bed with “stuff” and put in some sort of manure(s) as I’m building up the layers and I like spreading a few centimetres of good compost over the entire surface of the bed so that I can get straight into planting. If I haven’t got much compost, then I do pockets of soil on the top of the staw.

    I either put in small seedlings or just the seeds and they grow up and the stuff underneath just decomposes as they are growing. I usually just grow leafy greens in these beds but this year I have put in capsicums and tomatoes as well. For the tomatoes, I put the top layer of compost in a bit of a pile where I planted the tomato plant. I had tomatoes for Christmas so it worked ok. I haven’t planted capsicums before so not sure what they are doing but most seem to be growing well now although something is munching on the leaves. The Roma tomatoes have white fly too. :@ The celery is growing really, really well.

    I think one of the disadvantages of these beds is the quantity of water that they can require at first as there is a fair bit of run-off because of the hay/straw underneath. The worms move in very quickly though and it doesn’t take too long before you have a lovely bed of rich, dark soil.

    I’ve always been more than happy with my ND garden beds and I wish you all the best with yours Kimble. :tup:

    This photo was taken on the 25th December 2006.


    To quote Mel Brooks, Gianna,….”everything is so GREEN!!!”

    You must have had a fair bit of rain, you lucky thing!!

    Kimble, throwing in some green manure seeds (oats would grow well in your area) would really give your vegie patch a huge kick start for the autumn growing season. Can’t wait to hear how it all goes!! Why don’t you set up a Blog for this particular project?


    I’m a lazy gardener too Len. I really admire those industrious souls who toil and sweat, digging deeply, breaking up clods with a hoe and raking it over, but for my money (and my back) its a no-brainer. Just mark out your plot, construct a raised edge around it, sprinkle with manure, cover with a thick layer of newspapers, cardboard or old carpet, add more manure and/or compost, cover with soil or straw, water well and plant up. Its as easy as downing a cold glass of beer on a hot day! No-dig is also a lot kinder to earthworms and other critters in the soil. They tremble when you approach with a spade!


    for sure warwick,

    you know they have progreesed from single digging to double digging through triple digging to quadrupal digging (when or where will it end??) all by hand then break it up with a rotary hoe!!!!????? can you imagine??

    all this after dutifully turning a compost heap/bin for around 2 weeks or more and making sure there are the right proportions of greens to browns to whatever!!??

    and in that time us no-diggers have got a garden up and running well on the way to producing and no chiro’ bills or noisy smelly machine. chuckle.

    loving it just like the undisturbed soil structure does.


Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 29 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.