Thursday, March 8, 2012

The No-Dig Garden: A Family Affair

[caption id="attachment_14471" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Community garden"][/caption]

Bob Ewing - Growing your own food with friends and family is productive, healthy and fun. The family that grows its own food together is forming connections with each other, the soil and nature, connections that will last forever.

Gardening is viewed by some people as hard work, back breaking toil that must be done, in order to obtain a yield. I disagree, there is work, naturally, nothing will happen unless some effort is put into the activity. However, you can grow herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers with a minimum of toil and a maximum of yield; it all rests in the garden design.

There is no need to dig, a no-dig garden can be set up in your yard within a four hour or less period, especially if all the family comes together and shares the labour.

What you will need. You will need newspaper; lots of it, so get started collecting weeks before you are going to garden. Avoid the pages that are all coloured, such as, comics and some ads. A little colour will not hurt.

Compost is also required. If you have your own compost bin great if not then you will need to get some. Often municipalities will have either free compost available or sell it for a small fee, ask around.

Straw, not hay, is essential. Be sure to use straw not hay, they are different. Hay is actually a plant that is cut when it is alive and full of grain. The purpose of the hay is to feed animals. Straw, on the other hand, is simply the stalks of standing plants that contain no grain.

You will also need something to form a border around the garden bed. Bricks are good, old lumber, as long as it is not treated, can work. Use your imagination.

How big is the garden bed, well that depends upon you. Limit the width to four feet so all parts of the bed can be reached without being stepped on and make it as long as you have space and the time to work that space.

Do not forget your time when making your garden plan. Many gardens have failed because the gardener forgot to factor her or his life into the equation. You and your family have other commitments besides the garden, consider them when planning.

This work will go faster and be more fun with several pairs of hands, do the following:

1- Locate garden in a site that gets at least six (6) hours of sunlight per day.
2- Water.
3- Spread paper, be sure the edges overlap and completely cover the space.
4- Water.
5- Spread two inches of straw over area.
6- Water
7- Cover with compost.
8- Water
9- Add another layer of straw.
10- Water.

Now you are ready to plant. Use seedlings rather than seeds. Make a pocket in the straw where you plan to place the seedling. Put the seedling in place and fill pocket with compost, when you are finished, water.

Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, greens and most herbs and flowers can be grown in this bed. Be sure to let every family member place, at least one seedling, in the garden.