6th March 2018 at 11:40 am #45343
I’ve tried everything with my garden over the past 2 years but with no success. It’s extremely heavy and wet so much so that you can lose your boot during the depths of winter. It’s obviously clay based. I have now removed all the grass top and covered in weed suppressant with a view to putting down a stone base and then building raised beds. My question is could I lay cardboard down and then manure followed by compost without laying the subbase stone in order to create no dig beds. I don’t really want to go to the expense of putting down stone all over the garden if I can possibly get away with not doing it. I would then lay stone down in order to make pathways. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.6th March 2018 at 11:41 am #45345
The no dig beds would be used to grow vegetables in as well as flowers.6th March 2018 at 2:30 pm #45359
Such a pity you scraped the grass off, all that fertility and structure and soil life now gone.
No need for cardboard to kill weeds though, just compost eg old manures etc.
Forget stones, they add no fertility and give hiding place to slugs. Spend money on compost instead!
I was talking to a Scottish farmer who said how after going no dig, it’s the first ever time in his life that he can go in his garden (now compost-mulched) without getting muddy boots, he was so happy.
Think of paths as part of the growing space, keep them as narrow as is convenient.6th March 2018 at 2:32 pm #45360
PS pull up and remove any “weed suppressant” first, because its a horrible soil pollutant and hindrance to soil organisms once it is buried.6th March 2018 at 2:41 pm #45361
Thanks Charles, much appreciated. When I say I have taken up the grass I haven’t completed it yet and it’s not really grass, it’s just wet heavy mud with weeds in it really!! I was just worried that by placing manure and compost on top I would be wasting my money as it would just add to the muddy mess without a firm base. You think it will be ok to just go for it?6th March 2018 at 2:48 pm #45365
Yes go for it.
Soil life will be fed, undisturbed and get busy making a structure to your soil, more durably than we can with technology and hard landscaping.6th March 2018 at 5:27 pm #45367
One other question if you don’t mind. Is it essential I clear all the weeds first?7th March 2018 at 4:53 am #45371
Mike, I suggest you read this page https://www.charlesdowding.co.uk/no-dig-growing/no-dig-growing-preparation/ so as to understand better what you are doing.
Going back to your original Q, it could save you a lot of money.
If there are weeds, that is where the cardboard is an excellent mulch, but I urge you to study the details before committing a lot of time, money and materials.7th March 2018 at 2:26 pm #45394
I am in a similar puzzle with the addition of heavy clay soil. I am starting to do a rotation garden to improve my pasture area that was formally sugar cane field for 20 years. Yes farmed traditionally with all the lime and artificial fertilizer and pesticide. Then the land was just field for about 8 years while the property sat around for sale. This did help flush chemicals out at least. We bought it and now have horses, sheep, hogs and chickens rotating through it which it helping fertilize but also helps compact areas even more. Along with this we are a sub-tropic area (9a) and can rain for a month or more at a time. I do compost and tried planting the first year just hand tilling to about 6″-10″ in garden area and composting and this helped some. I had great success with tomato and sunflowers, however a lot of plants where lot due to standing water. I am now trying out deep bedding, I follow John Seymour’s method in his book, ‘The Self-Sufficient Gardener’. I am worried about the soil just re-compacting as I move the garden around. My long term goal is to improve the whole pasture one manageable plot at a time to one day have much better loam that can drain water and retain soil structure and that I can just add compost to and do normal no-dig gardening. I am really wanting some advice because I need to grow food for my family and feed for my livestock to off set cost. Thanks so much for any thoughts you have…7th March 2018 at 3:03 pm #45397
Hello Jessifi, it sounds like you have two issues:
1 Historical compaction
2 Contemporary flooding.
Until the second is sorted, you may be taking two steps forward and one back with mulching to encourage soil organisms (if they subsequently drown).
There are many cases of healing compaction with surface organic matter – in my case at Lower Farm in 1999, and here in 2013. But that was without any long term issues of lying water.
You may need to consider laying some drains, I would take advice on that.8th March 2018 at 12:27 pm #45432
I was given an allotment after a wait this week. Yesterday morning I went to start marking out the no dig beds when I removed one of the plastic sheets the ground underneath was soaking with standing puddles. This made me feel uneasy as my previous thoughts were two inches of compost over the clean ground to start with and then 4 inches over the couch grass as and when throughout the year.
There is only one other plot holder there at the moment, and the rest of the plots have not been worked for a while. Nearly every plot has raised beds presumably to counteract the permanent waterlogged soil. Even though I am new to no digging I understand the philosophy behind it. To that end, I believe that as the soil is constantly waterlogged nothing will live in it, (worms, invertebrates,fungus etc;) so to be able to grow on that plot I would need some really deep raised beds. Would I be correct in my assumption? If so what depth of soil would actually be needed to be able to get a living soil in a bed beneath the compost?9th March 2018 at 10:03 pm #45452
Hello AJ, it might be an idea to put a shallow trench around the edge of the beds, place the trench soil on the beds and then proceed as “no dig”…just a thought.10th March 2018 at 6:37 am #45457
AJ it sounds a difficult site. John’s idea is worthwhile, I would try a few raised beds with say 4-6in soil then compost on top. Maybe summer goes better.
But making such beds is a lot of work and a lot of soil, I would also keep an eye out for a better allotment site.10th March 2018 at 2:56 pm #45462
We have some problems with standing water if it is very wet like now. We have a trench all around the 6-8 “edge of the no dig bed with the idea of stopping weeds jumping across. In the wet it acts as a moat. The compost on the no dig beds is always accessible and clean and productive what ever the weather. It does mean a bit of work to start with and maintaining but looks good as well so I would recommend this a way to cope with water (and snow when melting as we are having now.)10th March 2018 at 8:49 pm #45483
Well, RandA, I have did a trench for the same purpose…but…unfortunately, one bed area has a trench on three sides and because it lacks a fourth trench to complete the bed perimeter, it is a big right now. My other bed has a trench on all sides and is reasonably void of excess water…
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