How am I supposed to sow crops such as wheat ? Do I lay compost in lines, so that I can then plant them ?
With crops such as onions, carrots... should I just make sure the bed is tall enough, or will they just grow properly as long as there is soil under the bed ?
And lastly, there is kind of a chicken and egg problem. To make those beds, I'd need carbon rich, and nitrogen rich material. So I can grow them... but I'd need the material first ! Of course I am a bit exaggerating, but I think you get the picture. One could take grass and other weeds, dry some and keep some fresh, to make each layer. However this can take some time, and as I'm starting to gain a bit of experience, I see that green manures are a wonderful way to create, well, green manure to use in no dig beds or anywhere else. But is there a way to grow green manure in no-dig beds ? Can it work ?
I second the advice on Dowding' s channel. His website is great too. You'll need a big start up volume of compost. Market gardens buy this in, or pays for itself in reduced weeding and fertility.
One way to clear land for no dig growing is occultation with a tarp. Mow, making compost with the hay. Cover with silage tarp and use next year. See Curtis stone.
Another is deep mulching with at least 10cm of organic material such as wood chips, straw or hay. Plant through the mulch into the soll or make fertile pockets filled with compost. Combines well with winecap mushroom cultivation. See back to Eden and Ruth stout.
On weedy spots I use a combination:cover everything with cardboard minus sticky tape, cover that with a c m or two of rough compost, plant into holes made through the cardboard. By the time the weeds make it through the veg can cope.
You can direct seed wheat, corn, but after the garden bed soil is a bit more mature (1 yr later). In year 1 I would start with shallow-rooted things like herbs, salad greens.. part of learning is experimenting, too.
For onions, carrots, I would recommend seed trays so the sprouts don't get obliterated by slugs, squirrels, or birds.
I have successfully grown clover (a green composter) alongside my vegetables. Clover grows insanely fast so it takes maintenance, be prepared with clippers regularly and for your loved ones to get anxious that there are "too many weeds" in the garden (one of the main reasons I don't do that anymore.) Remember beans add nitrogen to the soil, and there are a variety of perennial shrubs and such that will add nitrogen to the soil, reducing the need for green compost. Dandelions make excellent green compost, but even better salads :)
Burying logs in the garden bed releases nutrients over time, too, and builds soil. Now the green composting strategy can be diversified. Sowing a cover crop at the end of fall is a great way to get some thing to chop n drop in the spring. If that cover crop doesn't fix nitrogen or put nutrients back in the soil, it'll be consuming them instead, so think about that.
I do not dig in my beds and have not since I started my garden 3 yrs ago. Anything that dies in the winter, I clip above the roots and drop the remainder right on the bed there. I started my garden beds by creating layers of "bio mass". I got a lot of stuff at the beginning from my neighbors, who don't spray their lawns or landscapes. They were just taking bags of "yard waste" to the curb, and I asked them for the bags. Those made excellent fill for garden beds. Autumn is perfect for getting leaf bags for soil building.
All the above plus your own compost pile should build a nice healthy soil. There are even more ways to make great soil.
This is my first year with the Ruth Stout method...a no dig type of garden. Because my soil is pure sand late last fall I did lay horse manure over the garden area first and put my hay over that. All Winter I also added all my scraps from the kitchen directly into the garden. So far the garden is a huge success and I'm learning as I go. With Ruth's method the only veggie directly in the hay is potato's, everything else you pull back the hay and just plant in the soil. No tilling, no digging. This is my most weed free garden in over 40 years of gardening.
Thought that I would create a green tinge in the eye of all no-diggers! You can see that I live in sunny Devon in the South West of the UK, so I have had the great pleasure visiting Charles Dowding on open days at his Somerset market garden. It is a revelation seeing everything growing at full throttle and productivity. Mr. Dowding's methods work very well and make growing a pleasurable and rewarding occupation with maximum return on the reduced effort expended. Really worthwhile watching his Youtube channel. Even better to visit in person and meet the man himself!
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the permaculture bootcamp in winter (plus half-assed holidays)