A few years ago, my father-in-law inherited a big farm garden full of fruit trees in Nether-Bavaria. The area is acknowledged to have the best soil in Bavaria. Apart from a neighbour, who put his beehives there and cut the grass as far as necessary, the garden has literally been left alone for 20 years. It has become a treasure of biodiversity amidst a highly intensive farming area. The family wants to keep it that way, but since none of the younger ones lives nearby, all we can do is two or three people spending one day on the spot every two or three weeks. Filled with mending fences, fighting the hazelnut-jungle and harvesting loads of apples, plums, pears, quince ect. (my husband put up a harvesting community to come and share from Munich), it felt like all we could manage.
No one had ever thought about reviving our late aunt´s vegetable garden. The soil is clay heavy, packed with weeds; starting all over would mean a lot of digging, wouldn`t it?
When I found Charles` videos on Youtube last autumn, we saw a range of new possibilities.
In early winter 2022 we covered the to-be-bed with 8-fold newspaper, the edges/path around with cardboard and mulched with dry leaves and “compost” from a heap that had accumulated over years out of cut grass, woodchips and rotting apples. Left it to freeze.
First plantings in April and since then it is a pleasure to watch it all grow. (Just didn´t consider flying pests, will cover next year.)
Second game changer: Propagation in multi-cell-trays. It is so easily done on a windowsill at home in Munich. Then I take them to Nether-Bavaria and pop them in. Water once and that´s it. Sometimes a whole set is gone by the next visit, dryness or slugs, depending on the weather. But others thrive. We decided to plant only things that also grow on the fields around without being watered. But later I popped in everything I had to many plants of. (Like that we harvested for example more than 1 kg of cherry tomatoes from 3 plants; double amount rotted in September during our three-week holiday, so what?)
I really want to encourage everyone to give NoDig a try, especially if conditions are not ideal and time is scarce. Looking at Charles´ videos I realise my little veg trial looks like a real mess. Bed sizes not ideal, no tidy edges, compost quality questionable. But the weeds did not (completely) take over when we were away, and we had a decent harvest in the first year.
Now the bed is ready for next season. Compost on, garlic, onions and kale still there. Looking forward to starting earlier next spring. Thank you so very much!