Starting a no-dig kitchen garden from scratch

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vivienz
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Re: Starting a no-dig kitchen garden from scratch

Postby vivienz » Mon May 14, 2018 9:48 pm

Duh, ignore me, Robo, I've just re-read your earlier post and seen the answer to my question. It's getting late and I don't make much sense earlier in the day!
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Re: Starting a no-dig kitchen garden from scratch

Postby robo » Mon May 14, 2018 10:05 pm

My beds are all 12x4 feet except for one which is eight x four , it's not the first time I've grown through cardboard I did it last year but only on one bed this year it's three beds up to now and the borders in the pollytunnel the idea in the pollytunnel it to try and keep blight at bay , the other reasons through family illness I find my time I can spend down the plot limited I don't think I will have much time for weeding this summer
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Re: Starting a no-dig kitchen garden from scratch

Postby Colin2016 » Tue May 15, 2018 7:15 am

Robo interested in your growing through cardboard, is this purely to keep slugs at bay or are there other benefits.

Wondering if this keeps the ground wetter like when you put chippings on top?
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Re: Starting a no-dig kitchen garden from scratch

Postby robo » Tue May 15, 2018 8:53 am

It's just to keep weeds down and it breaks down over summer and fertilises the soil
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Re: Starting a no-dig kitchen garden from scratch

Postby Stephen » Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:53 pm

I went on a Charles Dowding weekend and he and his work was very impressive.

The big "but" in the system is a really good supply of manure/green-bin compost. You really can not produce enough yourself, it will have to be imported in trailer fulls (note the plural). His site had two very substantial heaps of material ready to use. I can usually secure one trailer load each year and it doesn't come close to covering my plot in the way Charles uses it.

So your supply also needs to be cheap! (This isn't neccesarily a problem, forexample South Cambridgeshire will supply a truckload for the cost of delivery! OTOH here in Dacorum they will give ratepayers two bag fulls on a single day if you queue outside their depot - it all goes in a couple of hours)

One thing for certain is the "no dig" does not mean "no heavy work".
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Re: Starting a no-dig kitchen garden from scratch

Postby Colin2016 » Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:32 pm

Fully agree Stephen. I have been using the plastic dalek type but no very impressed, have just built two pallet size composting bays which are working great 60/70 degrees, looking to have 6 bays eventually.

I have neighbours saving me their cardboard/pruning/food waste etc plus having access to free horse poo couple bags a day is helpful but if no available there is always plenty for 50p per bag.

Found this site on http://homecompostingmadeeasy.com/addasyougopile.html helpfull

"One thing for certain is the "no dig" does not mean "no heavy work"."

Once it is set up all it needs is a couple inchs top up each year so does get easier.
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Re: Starting a no-dig kitchen garden from scratch

Postby Stephen » Sun Oct 07, 2018 2:24 pm

Hi Colin
I have 3 daleks, on the allotment. I do agree that there must be a better way but I have one which is full and ready for use. I find the initial breakdown is quite good but that it slows down later (grass in particular seems to hold its shape). Mostly I smash stuff up before chucking it in (this is often a time issue).
Maybe this winter I can scrounge a lot of pallets.
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Re: Starting a no-dig kitchen garden from scratch

Postby oldherbaceous » Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:50 pm

Afternoon Stephen, if you have an industrial estate near you, there are often decent pallets laying about, or in skips....might pay just to ask before you take them though!
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Re: Starting a no-dig kitchen garden from scratch

Postby peter » Sun Oct 07, 2018 4:24 pm

My local plumbers merchant leaves them out from and put up a permsnent metall sign inviting people to help themselves.

Sometimes there are long ones or noddy little ones, but blink and you miss them. I go armed with tools and an empty boot and am 3 of 5 met with an empty space.
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Re: Starting a no-dig kitchen garden from scratch

Postby vivienz » Mon Oct 08, 2018 6:40 pm

Can you tell us a little more about your Charles Dowding weekend, please, Stephen?

I'm getting to the stage with our new build when most of the outside work (for me) will be done and I can finally start thinking about getting my no-dig beds set up so that they can overwinter nicely and be ready for planting in the spring. I had a trench dug today, very close to where the beds will be, to bury an electricity cable. There was a reasonable layer of topsoil but still masses of clay after about 40cm. Definitely no-dig for me!
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Re: Starting a no-dig kitchen garden from scratch

Postby Stephen » Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:14 pm

Back to the top - Vivienz how are things going?

My new project is going to be in the "no dig" style. We will be putting a soil/manure/leaf mould mixture on top of cardboard. It is awkward to arrange vehicle access, so additional material isn't in consideration at the moment.
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Re: Starting a no-dig kitchen garden from scratch

Postby vivienz » Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:00 pm

Stephen wrote:Back to the top - Vivienz how are things going?

My new project is going to be in the "no dig" style. We will be putting a soil/manure/leaf mould mixture on top of cardboard. It is awkward to arrange vehicle access, so additional material isn't in consideration at the moment.


Well, hello there, Stephen and what serendipitous timing! Last year was caught up in building, house moving, old house renovating and too many other tedious things to mention. Then it started raining in October and didn't stop till the last of the storms, then 3 weeks after that the plague arrived.

That said, we have the bases down for our greenhouses and we're putting one together at the moment with hopes of setting it up after the weekend. All the timber is cut and ready for the raised beds but we need to get some serious earth moved to put them in their final positions. As groundworkers are in short supply at the moment, it's likely that I'll get one or two raised beds in temporary homes for this year so that I can get on with planting out. Our soil has already hardened dramatically; some of the clay that was exposed from its meagre layer of topsoil is so hard that one of our cats was sharpening her claws on it the other day. However, I've got a load of compost arriving next week and so will be able to mix plenty in and make a start. Last year, we were puzzling on how best to protect the greenhouses and beds from the prevailing south westerly winds - our spot has pretty much zero shelter from them. We (hope) we've solved the problem by building an earth bank, about 7 ft high, for everything to hide behind but still with the beds and greenhouses getting full east and southerly exposure. Time will tell on that as the wind comes in like a steam train when it gets going.

The former grazing field where the kitchen garden is going has had the turf scraped off, so there's no need to put cardboard down before the beds. The turf is all piled up with the topsoil (very heavy, clay rich) settling down and will be used elsewhere in due course. The sheltering bank also has a side that gets lots of east/south exposure, so I'm planning on planting my butternut squash directly into that and letting them scramble at will.

The major difficulty right now is supplies. I could really do with a load of lighter topsoil or a lot more compost (topsoil would be cheaper) but it's all I could do to get a grab bag delivery of compost that I've been waiting 3 weeks for, hence the plan to just do a couple of beds for now. I can get hold of straw bales easily enough and I'm going to have a go at the straw bale method that was in the magazine recently, for growing my toms and aubergines in the greenhouse. This will save me a lot on compost. I'm going to see if I can get our own heavy topsoil to cooperate sufficiently to fill a bed that I'll plant with brassicas - they should be very happy in that, particularly the ones that will overwinter as once they've got their roots meshed into our clay, they will go nowhere and there's no fear of wind rock.

I have gazillions of seeds from all the issues of KG over the last 12+ months, so I didn't have to worry about the shops or online sites running out of seeds. It's really exciting to be able to get growing at last, so I'm hoping for a productive year on the developing plot.
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Re: Starting a no-dig kitchen garden from scratch

Postby Stephen » Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:21 pm

building an earth bank, about 7 ft high

Wow! Seven feet! Is it just your clay soil or did you add a bit of straw to make a cob wall! (classic west country - mostly further west than you - vernacular).

Close by in Hemel Hempstead, I volunteer as a gardener at a hostel for the homeless and there the ground is like unbaked bricks, we have either imported topsoil (before my time there) or, during the winter, a really large volume of manure. This work is suspended at the moment but I will return to it as soon as the restrictions are lifted.
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Re: Starting a no-dig kitchen garden from scratch

Postby oldherbaceous » Sat Apr 04, 2020 7:32 am

Just loved reading your post, Vivienz...full of hope for future years...
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Re: Starting a no-dig kitchen garden from scratch

Postby vivienz » Sat Apr 04, 2020 7:50 pm

Thanks, OH. I have a reputation for liking a challenge and I've been looking forward to this one for some years now, as has hubby. Other than some troughs of strawberries, I'm limiting myself to vegetables this cropping season. I will get the fruit beds established in the autumn, along with an asparagus bed.
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