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  • Ellen Mary

No Digging It

Last year when I had to give up my allotment of many years, it was all quite emotional! Moving house was no big deal compared to clearing out the allotment and walking away on what was a dull, rainy day.

Fast forward a year and I am on my new urban allotment, a completely different environment to the old rural plot. New people, new pests, different soil and even more fun!

As with many new plot owners, I turned up to find it covered in weeds but I loved the space and immediately had plans. Plans to weed it by hand, dig it, rotivate it...but then I discovered the world of 'No Dig'.

I'd never heard of this before but I started following Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty, hugely experienced in the no dig method of gardening. Totally intrigued I bought the book No Dig Organic Home & Garden which explains the method, the how to's and also some great storage and cooking ideas, written by Charles and Stephanie. They explain that no dig organic gardening saves time and work, allowing nature to do the work - just what it does best - with only a helping hand rather than a whole load of meddling. This completely resonated with me and besides, my plot was overrun with weeds and going down the no dig route meant saving my back and some time. It's an ecologically beneficial way of growing, applying only a yearly layer of compost, not digging it in which actually means the soil structure improves and weeds are reduced. Very happy days!

So I set to work and removed some of the more tenacious perennial weeds, leaving the rest as they were. I then covered the beds with a layer of cardboard and a thick layer of Plant Grow (my plot is also veganic, so no animal products - although there was some farmyard manure in one spot to begin with before I knew about Plant Grow or was even vegan).

I could run through everything that has happened during the first year but that would make for an extraordinarily long blog! So instead I will summarise:

- I have barely needed to do any weeding at all (hooray)

- I have barely used a spade (hooray)

- I have been able to focus on getting the greenhouse, shed and pathways done in super quick time because the plants kind of take care of themselves (hooray)

- My allotment looks super neat (hooray)

- Everything is completely thriving (hooray)

- I have so much produce from a small plot that I don't know what to do with it (oops)

- I honestly think no dig is the way forward!

So, if you are looking for a way to improve soil and crops with less work then definitely look up no dig information, especially by following Charles and Stephanie or buying their books that are very helpful.

At first it seemed strange to not go to an allotment and dig, but after a few months the whole process felt more natural and now I just let the worms do the digging for me!

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