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To dig or not to dig, that is the question.


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Foxylock
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 5:20 pm    Post subject: To dig or not to dig, that is the question. Reply with quote

Hello people.

Now that the evenings are stretching and our gardens cry out for more and more of our time, ask yourself, could my time be spent more efficiently ? What if we didn't dig over the garden every year incessantly churning the soil, sweating and aching ? WHAT, I hear you cry, but we must dig !

Well I've recently finished reading a quite interesting book called " Organic gardening the natural no dig way " by Charles Dowding. This guy hasn't dug his garden in over twenty five years except to remove perennial weeds and turf. The veg he produces are quite astonishing. So do we have any advocates of this method here ? What are your thoughts on the method ?

I personally don't mind the digging, it can be therapeutic and good exercise too, in fact I just finished digging over the veg patch yesterday. So come on " no-diggers " lets hear from ye............
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brennan.jm
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does anybody know why we dig in the first place. I can understand the need to dig where the plant will go but turning over all that extra ground seems poinless. I think it is more important to feed the soil than to be turning it over.
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Foxylock
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good point sir, some will say to dig in the organic matter. But won't the worms do that for us if we let them do their job ?
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AJ
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

www.gardenplansireland.com/forum/about354.html

I know organic growing pains was doing this on her blog, but I haven't followed it up, also the link above did throw out some ideas,

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Know a guy who never digs, justs adds well rotted horse and chicken manure every autumn and doesn't crop rotate either. Shocked Grows fine crops. Anyone any thoughts Question
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Foxylock
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well whatever about not digging, I think not rotating the crops will catch up with him eventually and his plot will succumb to disease or pest infestation of some form.
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brennan.jm
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I notice that in parts of my garden that are not cultivated there is realy strong growth of all types of plants. Yet the ground is not dug. Does this not tell us something. I do think looking after the soil is more important than diging particuarly when we don't know why we dig. If we can keep the ground around plants covered with proper compost I do not think there is any need to dig.
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Macy
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

imo there's too many variables to give a blanket yes or no on digging.

Personally, I'm fighting perinenal weeds, so at the moment I'm digging and cultivating fresh ground which I'm also digging. I know there's methods of doing no dig from the start, but to do so effectively from what I've read (lasagne beds etc) you have to have a fair amount of things like straw and manure to do that on any sort of scale compared to digging over and adding by the barrowload.

Long term, I'm planning half and half raised beds and open ground, hopefully to give maximum flexibility. I guess the open ground will inevitably include digging, as "bed" widths/ row widths will change. I'll tell you in about 10 years whether it has any effect on yield Smile

I know there are methods growing through mulches, but even then how do you get spuds out without digging?
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ian
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 12:43 pm    Post subject: you dig? Reply with quote

you can plant spuds using a dibber but of course they will have to dug out!
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Foxylock
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
you can plant spuds using a dibber of course but they will have to be dug out !


And they will have to be earthed up which entails digging. Or do they need to be earthed up ?

According to Charles Dowding his method for potato planting is as follows : " Make a hole about four inches into the soil using a trowel and pop seed tubers in without any digging. Then spread two to four inches of compost or well rotted manure on top." Thats it, no mention of earthing up or any preparation that involves digging. This begs the question, what are the consequences, if any, of not earthing up ones crop ? Anyone know this ?
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MacFistycuffs
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Earthing up prevents new tubers from turning green and becoming poisonous. It also increases yield as many more tubers develop from the stems which have been covered with soil. Additionally it will provide protection to tubers from blight spores.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We did go for the no dig option on a new bed at the end of 2008.The area had never been dug previousley and the grass was covered with a layer of manure then a layer of cardboard then veg and fruit was put on to rot down instead of adding to the compost bin. The whole thing was covered with black sheeting for the winter and when we uncovered it to plant our early potatoes we had no grass just a lovely crumbly soil.
The trenches were easily dug for the potatoes, they were earthed up and when we were harvesting them the ground was turned.
We covered it again with a layer of manure and it has been covered all winter with black membrane.We are planting onions in the bed this year, we are thinking of just planting through the membrane to suppress weeds.
The bed has not been dug over completely at any time but in parts as required.In comparison to the amount of work put into other areas I would consider this one a 'no dig'.
Other beds on the plot while they were dug at the beginning were not dug last year ,as the veg was harvested the beds were covered with black manure and black plastic and left.They will not be dug this year ,maybe raked over to allow seed to be planted we would hope that all heavy digging is now finished with!
On another bed on ground which had been overgrown for some time, we just dug the trenches for the seed potatoes and turned the sods in on top of them, grass side down. The pops were easy to earth up when the time came as the sods had rotted down.



allotment_002.JPG
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The bed last year when the early potatoes had just been earthed up.It is the only pic I have of it!
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Macy
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:55 pm    Post subject: Re: you dig? Reply with quote

ian wrote:
you can plant spuds using a dibber but of course they will have to dug out!

It was more in the harvesting I was thinking. You could dib them in, you could mulch instead of earting up, but you still have to get the spuds out in the end. There is the method of planting through black plastic, but I don't think with my slug population that would be a goer.
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brennan.jm
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i see from the organicgrowing pains that a no dig method might be feaseable. Can I ask the author about puting manure on top and covering with plastic for the winter. Is this like composting where you are going to use the compost. Is the manure completely rotted and is it just a matter of straight planting. I don't agree with a previous post that potatoes cannot be planted tghrough cover. What do you think.
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Foxylock
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally I have never heard of potatoes being planted through black plastic, it's one way of stopping the daylight getting at the tubers but potatoes love water so wouldn't the plastic hamper this especially in hot weather the roots would dry out very quickly. I wonder was the yield from the no dig method comparable to that of conventional methods of planting ?
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