Creating a No-Dig Bed

Creating a No-Dig bed is one of the quickest and easiest ways to build a garden space for vegetables. A variety of organic materials are layered on top of sod, or bare land, to create nutrient-rich soil for plants to grow in. The layers literally compost in place, which feeds plants and develops a great micro-environment. This method is also called “Lasagna” gardening.

 

In this particular No-Dig garden, I ended up doing some digging. My initial project was to put some walkway pavers at the gate threshold. As I was excavating in front of the gate, I needed a place to put the resulting soil, so decided to build another vegetable bed … because you can never have too many, right? I picked this location, a sunny spot in the northeast corner of our front yard.

After moving all of my important things that had gathered in this corner of the garden, I started creating the No-Dig bed. The first layer was upside down sod, and soil, from the gate threshold excavation.

The second layer was some fresh vegetable scraps to add nutrients and entice the earthworms to come up through the layers. The local crows also enjoyed this layer, so I quickly covered it with another material.

The third layer was aged straw that had been covering the garden space all winter. The winter straw cover prevented rain erosion, suppressed weeds and encouraged worms to work near the moist surface. Now, layered into the new garden bed, the straw will hold moisture and allow air flow.

Next, I added a layer of composted Alpaca manure from a local farm source. A fifth layer, that I forgot to take a photo of, was 2 inches of green lawn clippings from property that is not treated with chemical fertilizers or weed killers. Other materials that I have previously used for layering, are leaves and seaweed,

Below is a picture of the gate threshold. I decided to use bricks, leftover from our old fireplace removal. The bricks were easier to place into a level footpath than the chunks of concrete. Plus, the brick design reminds me of a secret garden that my Grandmother had on Point Grey Rd., in Vancouver, BC. I used a broom to brush sand between the cracks, which held the bricks solidly in place.

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Next, I put on a layer of finished compost. Then I started to build the retaining walls. As with my other vegetable beds, I used Urbanite (chunks of concrete) to make a free, recycled border on the new garden.

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The new No-Dig vegetable plot is almost complete. I’ve added multiple layers of organic materials to the entire space. I also threw on a couple handfuls of Dolomite lime (because our coastal soil is typically acidic) and a generous solution of fish fertilizer made from wild sources.  Lastly, I topped the entire bed with 4″ of light organic garden soil then started planting!

Each year, all through out the growing season, I add more layers to my vegetable garden beds. Seaweed, mulched leaves, compost, straw, and wood chips, as a moisture holding mulch, are all a big part of my gardening routine. I wish you the best of luck when building beds for your vegetable gardens 🙂