No dig course

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Marigold
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Re: No dig course carrots?

Postby Marigold » Fri Mar 09, 2012 2:06 pm

I have done this and now plant some crops through black plastic.. As Johnboy says, it needs a lot of manure.

And is probably almost as labour intensive.

Also manure tends to be full of grass and other seeds...

It worked well in a tunnel I had once, erected on a field. The only weeds that had to be dug out were docks, rushes and nettles, although the roots of the nettles rose to the surface like spaghetti after two years.

Also, what, please about carrots and parsnips on hard and stony ground? I have always dug the patch for these several times to clear stones and need to do that here also. I enjoy a little digging though.
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Re: No dig course

Postby Beryl » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:17 pm

On my 25 rod plot I have between 4 and 5 tractor trailer loads of horse manure every yesr, plus all the compost I make from my own green waste and even then it is not always enough. So yes it works if first you can clear all the perennial weeds and have good access to a never ending supply of compost.

Beryl.
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Marigold
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Re: No dig course

Postby Marigold » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:29 am

Beryl wrote:On my 25 rod plot I have between 4 and 5 tractor trailer loads of horse manure every yesr, plus all the compost I make from my own green waste and even then it is not always enough. So yes it works if first you can clear all the perennial weeds and have good access to a never ending supply of compost.

Beryl.



Ah well!! Wish I could find a mushroom farm around here as I used to get spent compost free. Lovely second crop of mushrooms.

There is an organic place nearby who use straw as mulch successfully. google "the Hollies"; nb chemical free rather than attested organic. Long process here in Ireland is organic certification.
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Re: No dig course

Postby Nature's Babe » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:17 pm

Good to see your enthusiasm Ade, fertility and soil structure will improve gradually with each passing year as long as you avoid compacting the soil by not walking on the beds. If you add lots of different materials to the compost it will feed the beneficial microbes and fungi, most veg and fruit benefit from fungi on their roots, weeds and disease are deterred by them, so that is a bonus. If the soil has been tilled or chemically farmed it might take time to
to get the right biology back into the soil. There are two ways to innoculate fungi into the soil, you can use something like rootgrow in the compost when planting, and uncultivated woodland soil will have a good balance of natural and local soil fungi and microbes only take a little though and get the owners permission. Soil is naturally teeming with life and that is what maintains structure and fertility, mine was solid clay that baked hard in the sun now it is dark rich and crumbly. Good luck.
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Re: No dig course

Postby AdeTheSpade » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:00 pm

Thank you for your encouragement Nature's Babe - thankfully I've been managing the plot on a sort of no dig for about 4 years now, with no chemicals used by me whatsoever (not the case though with the former tenant), so the soil structure is pretty good already. The no dig course gave me the finer details so that I hope I can manage the plot even better now. I've been spreading my own compost and some manure on all the beds (nearly covered them all now). Interestingly, Charles Dowding actually walks on his beds, and encourages people to do so as well, as the structure seems to be so good it can happily cope with it. Certainly, with his success, the proof of the pudding seems to be in the eating!
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Re: No dig course

Postby Johnboy » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:43 am

Hi NB,
I suspect that you are using some sort of poetic licence when you now say that your soil is now rich and crumbly because that the clay is in exactly the same state as when you started 'no dig' and it is only what you have added to the surface is rich and crumbly. The clay is actually part of your success because it prevents water draining away and forms now a natural barrier as though you had placed a membrane over the soil.
When, in my previous property, I was faced with deep Hertfordshire clay I double dug into the clay putting a large quantity of FYM and home made compost and sharp sand and over the years that superb fertile clay helped me to produce some very fine crops. When I left that property you could plunge a fork down two full spits without any real effort and the erstwhile unworkable clay was wonderfully friable, rich and crumbly and I would suggest that you are losing the 'magic' contained in the clay soil beneath your no dig beds.
If you were situated on a piece of free draining soil you would not fair as well with the no dig system.
As I said in my previous posting I tried the French Total Return System for 5 years alongside what were then normal organic beds and the normal organic beds produced far more and of better quality produce.
These experiments were conducted using 90ft beds and I found that I was having to spend more than double the time to spend more time looking after the no dig than on the four organic beds. Too much faffing about.
I do not condemn the no dig system and if it works for you that is fine but I am posting this as a warning to others that it is not all sweetness and light and so easy as you seem to make out. It actually takes more work than conventional growing. Unless you do a conventional experiment alongside your no dig you may be fooled into thinking otherwise.
JB.
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Marigold
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Re: No dig course

Postby Marigold » Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:16 am

Johnboy wrote:Hi NB,
I suspect that you are using some sort of poetic licence when you now say that your soil is now rich and crumbly because that the clay is in exactly the same state as when you started 'no dig' and it is only what you have added to the surface is rich and crumbly. The clay is actually part of your success because it prevents water draining away and forms now a natural barrier as though you had placed a membrane over the soil.
When, in my previous property, I was faced with deep Hertfordshire clay I double dug into the clay putting a large quantity of FYM and home made compost and sharp sand and over the years that superb fertile clay helped me to produce some very fine crops. When I left that property you could plunge a fork down two full spits without any real effort and the erstwhile unworkable clay was wonderfully friable, rich and crumbly and I would suggest that you are losing the 'magic' contained in the clay soil beneath your no dig beds.
If you were situated on a piece of free draining soil you would not fair as well with the no dig system.
As I said in my previous posting I tried the French Total Return System for 5 years alongside what were then normal organic beds and the normal organic beds produced far more and of better quality produce.
These experiments were conducted using 90ft beds and I found that I was having to spend more than double the time to spend more time looking after the no dig than on the four organic beds. Too much faffing about.
I do not condemn the no dig system and if it works for you that is fine but I am posting this as a warning to others that it is not all sweetness and light and so easy as you seem to make out. It actually takes more work than conventional growing. Unless you do a conventional experiment alongside your no dig you may be fooled into thinking otherwise.
JB.



Johnboy; you confirm much of what I had imagined. So I shall continue to dig as I can here. So many stones too. Thank you
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Re: No dig course

Postby Shallot Man » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:21 am

Beryl. 4 or 5 loads of manure a year, I could only dream of that amount, you have spoiled my day. :( :(
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Re: No dig course

Postby Beryl » Thu Mar 22, 2012 12:03 pm

Yes, Shallot Man, I do know how very lucky I am.
There are lots of places to get it if you are prepared to collect yourself but to have it delivered is a luxury. Kevin who delivers for me is always searching the internet for parts for the poor old tractor so I don't know how much longer it will continue.

Beryl.
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Re: No dig course

Postby Colin_M » Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:23 pm

Shallot Man wrote:Beryl. 4 or 5 loads of manure a year, I could only dream of that amount, you have spoiled my day. :( :(


Sounds like having a horse tethered by the plot might do the trick.
Just need to get the right end of the horse pointing towards the plot.... :twisted:
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Re: No dig course

Postby Stephen » Mon Mar 21, 2016 10:10 am

I'll bring this thread back to the top as I went to Charles Dowding on Saturday.
His salad leaves looked magnificent and the food that Stephanie produced for lunch (all produced by them on their separate grounds) wonderful.
My reaction falls into line with the others expressed above. It's a ultra-high organic material system; I think the "no dig" title isn't helpful because it creates a notion that there is no hard work involved.
If I was to cover my notional 10 poles with 2inches of manure, I think I would need 375 cu ft of manure (suitably aged). As I normally order one trailer load, this explains why I have tended to spread it thinly. I might just be able to create enough space for two loads to be delivered.
I also think his success is due to a lot of time spent in propagation. Lots of modules, his horse-manure hot bed and greenhouse. My record with a propagator is poor as the plants don't get enough light. Has anyone put LED lights inside the cover?
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Re: No dig course

Postby Oakridge » Mon Mar 21, 2016 4:39 pm

My first post,berbum.
I read Dr.Shewell-Cooper's book in the 70s and have used my own version on this light land ever since. It works very well.
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Re: No dig course

Postby Primrose » Mon Mar 21, 2016 6:06 pm

I know it's a little perverse, and no digging does save a lot of physical effort, especially as you get older, but there's nothing quite like the satisfaction of seeing a freshly dug plot. I was always under the impression that digging also allowed the fresh air and sunlight to enter more of the soil's surface area which also helped to clear out the bugs and nasties as well as helping to reduce any long term compaction, but perhaps this is simply a delusion on my part.

I think one of the difficulties for many of us is obtaining enough manure or compost to put a really thick mulch over the area not to be dug.
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Re: No dig course

Postby Oakridge » Mon Mar 21, 2016 7:43 pm

The other aggressive instrument I use is a Canterbury hoe. I do have a out half an acre of rough land which I can strip for compost. This takes about 18 months to work through the system and gets pretty hot.

When I get back from France I can show you some pictures.
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Re: No dig course

Postby Beryl » Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:05 pm

Primrose, If the soil is turned over when crops come out it is the heavy digging that isn't necessary.

Beryl.
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