Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mar 9, No Dig gardens - how to do no dig gardening by gardening the no dig way!

No dig gardens are the quickest, easiest way to get home grown vegetables on your dinner table.

No dig gardening or a raised garden bed, consists of layering organic materials on top of the soil to create a nutrient rich environment for your plants, in this case, vegetables.

No matter what your location, gardening the no dig way is an option for you. The garden literally composts the materials while feeding the plants.

A raised garden bed means that it doesn't matter what sort of soil you currently have. Simply layer materials over the top of your surface and start growing!

Benefits of a no dig garden or raised garden bed:

Gardening is sublime. It's where you can enjoy the wonder of nature close up and personally... no matter where you are. Don't let the current quality of your soil hold you back.

You will need a sunny space and a reasonably level surface or terraces. Beyond that, just add a few ingredients and you're on your way.

You might like to Plan your garden first, or go straight to finding out exactly How to build a no dig garden.

Let's get growing!

List of Vegetables
This list of vegetables to grow shows you how to plant vegetables and all the tips needed for growing vegetable plants and seed varieties. Crop Rotation
A quick guide on the benefits of crop rotation in the vegetable garden and a sample outline plan. Growing Herbs
Use no dig gardening methods for growing herbs. Get an instant herb garden with great results Other Gardens
How to use no dig gardening methods for other gardens such as flowers and fruit. Companion Planting
Companion planting is all about which plants help each other in the garden. Find out which combinations work to control pests and increase yields. Organic Garden Pest Control
Organic garden pest control is safe and easy when you use these natural, biological and non-toxic solutions. Beneficial Garden Insects
Here's how beneficial garden insects can really help your garden. Encouraging good garden bugs brings great rewards Vertical Gardens
If you have a space problem in your garden, vertical gardens could be the answer. Garden Tools
Some tips on purchasing and maintaining the best garden tools to suit you. Preserves
You can make preserves from your home grown vegetables by canning, freezing or dehydrating them allowing you to use them in a whole range of ways. Vegetable Recipes
Quick and easy vegetable recipes for your fresh garden produce in a range of styles. Reflections on Nature
There are things that happen in the garden and our world that are not always able to be explained. Reflections on Nature looks at some of them and offers... some reflections. Best Gardening Books
The best gardening books I've found for growing vegetables, herbs and everything to do with organics. Diggers Rest
Opt-in ezine subscription page for no dig vegetable gardening. Contact Us
Share your gardening tips and tricks with others. Or just provide a little feedback on what you'd like to see.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Feb 3, Gardening for Kids Kids Gardening Gardening for Children

Guess what was hidden under a patch of toadstools down the bottom of the garden?

No, not some sleepy elves and dreaming fairies; it was a great big gi-normous treasure chest of golden games and activities of children's gardening ideas!

Lucky you, ring-a-ring a posy, let's have a nosy at what's in it. Let's see...

... There are zounds of projects and oodles of inspiring detailed notes on how to make, find, play, learn, slither and poke around with soil, sand, water, mud, plants, bugs, boxes and... oh just heaps of kids' gardening ideas.

These gardening projects for kids will allow even the youngest children to get involved.

We have plenty of quick and easy projects here. Children's garden projects will teach them about nutrition, nature, recycling and organic gardening. That's a good outcome!

So ginger up the troops and let's go: Gardening Activities for Kids

Kids don't mind taking all the time in the world when you're in a hurry... sigh, but with gardening, let them go with flow. Lie under a tree if necessary and observe the world, feel the warmth or wind, laugh at the snow and listen to the noises. Of course if you're all in danger of turning blue or pink, hurry back!
Just as it's nice to simply lie under a tree or stir mud in a pond, remember children usually hate dancing in the same spot for too long, if you get what I mean, so it's a good idea to spend up to 15 minutes only on one activity before changing tack.

Depending on age most kids love to water and plant things. When it comes to maintenance and preparation tasks like weeding, mulching and thinning out, that's when you can say something like, "10 minutes weeding, then we'll water the cabbages, or have a treasure hunt, or pick some peas."

We would love the children of the world to grow up self-reliant and with good business values. But at the same time with a few different environmental and sustainability ethics, rather than what a few rapacious ratbags are doing now.

If you nurture in kids kindness and respect for other people and nature, including plants and wildlife, they themselves will be nurturing, imaginative and community minded sunny buttercups indeed.

So tell them that plants need a nice cool drink when they're thirsty, just like you!

Explain that plants like to be fed wholesome food. Funny how they don't have mouths, but they have roots with little hairs on that take up the nutrients.

Plants need sun, not because it's nice to flop down in the sun after a swim, but because of photosynthesis (ooh long word — make up a game later with this word) whereby plants make carbohydrates by trapping the sun's energy with their green colour, a pigment called chlorophyll (ooh again).

We can't produce our own energy, in fact it's impossible for us and all animals to convert solar energy into carbohydrates, but PLANTS can.

So we have to get carbohydrates from plants and other tiny growing organisms, which our bodies then convert into sugars that give us energy to grow and live.

Ask your child if they like to win a race — race them if you like. Now tell them that insects, birds and animals are competitive too and they aim to grow more, get the tastiest morsels, hang out in the best spots where their mates go — although they do it as a survival instinct rather than for fun.

Explain that's why pests are pests, they really aren't making holes in the cabbage leaves 'cos they like the lacy look; no, they want to grow up big and happy and turn into butterflies, just like kids want to grow up and turn into film stars... or environmetalists, horticulturalists, toxicologists... okay, at least gardeners.

Thus the caterpillar has a life, but nature keeps the balance. So it's okay to squash the caterpillars that eat our food, but not to kill ALL of the caterpillars in the world because then some birds would die without their favourite meal.

Those birds would not be around to then eat other insects which could then multiply too much. Also other wildlife would miss their bird meals, such as snakes or even spiders (yes there are bird eating spiders) and they would perish and nature's balance would be upset.

Kids gardening - flower border
If helping with a full-on garden seems too ambitious at the start when gardening with kids, try something simpler. There are lots of kids' gardening activities that don't involve an actual garden.

Wonderful sensory experiences can be gained by growing plants, making something out of natural materials, or generally pottering around with bugs, animals, dirt, stones, water and other life inspiring stuff.

Time to make some world champion gardeners. Have a look at these good old, reliable, and some off-the-planet new ideas for fun and informative gardening with children — and of course you.

Gardening Activities for kids Whoo hoo, wheelbarrows full of fun garden games, absorbing projects, and interesting activities for family gardening.

Kids Garden Crafts Take some of nature's materials and turn them into delightful bits and pieces to display, give away, play with or re-use another time. Here you'll find clear instuctions, for all ages and abilities, to make things outside or inside on a rainy day.

If you're having trouble getting the kids to eat vegetables, click over to this page: Vegetable Tips for Kids.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oct 21, No Till Gardening - How to Practice No Till Farming and Home Gardening

No till gardening really should be called no till farming, because it is referring to the elimination of conventional farming ways of plowing, compacting, degrading and eroding farmland, market gardens and sometimes community gardens by the use of machines.

Some readers may have quite large plots of land or grow vegetables in a small commercial way, in which case the following information will prove invaluable.

And just a mention for first timers into no till gardening. If your land has not yet built up a good layer of compost with all the necessary soil activity, then it may be necessary to aerate the soil yourself.

Plants need sun, air and water to thrive, and if the earthworms aren't there yet, the soil will need to be broken up deep down for you to get a decent crop in the beginning.

For a large plot of land, run a machine over it with prodder type spikes, and for a smaller plot, get yourself a long prodding garden fork and off you go. You don't want your plants to come to a full stop when their roots reach a hardpan layer.

Don't turn the soil, just poke holes in it. It's no till gardening, not no poke holes, so don't feel guilty because it's not as though you're turning the soil layers over or compacting the soil, (which is what conventional farming does.)

When no till farming first became popular, many farmers used chemicals or burning to get rid of their crop remains and weeds instead of plowing them under. Oops, that created more problems with chemical run-off into lakes and streams, and poison residues. Was plowing still a better option?

No... plowing or rotary hoeing is terrible for the land in the long term. There are many complex reasons, and you may like to read further information on this by soil experts. But for now here are a few simple points.

Firstly tilling creates soil erosion, because it breaks up the structure of the soil and fine particles are then easily blown or washed away, or washed down into the porous gaps in the soil and over time this actually clogs up the soil.

This can cause any one of the following depending on the clay and sand composition of the soil: Loss of soil; water-logging; too much aeration; compaction — made worse by heavy equipment; and formation of a hard topsoil pan which hinders seed germination and stops water infiltrating.

Secondly, although tilling initially makes crops produce abundantly because of sudden aeration, this is often excessive and abnormal for the plant.

In the meantime organic matter, bacteria, fungi, beetles and earthworms are all destroyed by tillage and not able to maintain the fine balance of harmony by providing nutrients to plants in a timely cycle. Eventually more and more fertilisers have to be used to maintain production.

No till gardening is natural and the soil ecology is NOT sent topsy turvy. Tilling damages and exposes earthworms and fatally buries other beneficial organisms including some that would normally help control invaders ? such as plant-eating nematodes.

Tilling releases CO? into the air, whereas if there was a rich organic soil layer, this carbon would be in the plant remains and thus retained in the soil. You can read more about how no till gardening sequests CO?.

Not only that, but the reduced use of heavy farm machinery with the no till gardening method, decreases emissions of CO?.

What farmers, market gardeners and small plot owners are doing now is either total no till farming or "conservation tillage." This means leaving the ground and any cover undisturbed, but using, if necessary, less damaging machinery to open up enough of a furrow or hole and in many cases do the sowing or planting with the same run.

Some of the popular implements used are harrows, cultivators and chisel plows. These land friendly machines only lift and moderately break the soil and prepare the surface for seed sowing or planting.

In poorer countries of course, hand or oxen tillage is done by armies of farm workers. But for small scale gardeners anywhere, a fork and rake with occasional spade use for planting are adequate.

The longer no till farming is practised and the sooner compost is added or plant remains left to decompose in the field, the better the soil structure becomes. Over time, the yeilds have proven to be higher with this method.

The golden rule with no till gardening is to avoid inverting the soil, and to tread lightly or not at all on your planting area.

Other organic, raised bed, and no dig gardening methods are:

Raised Vegetable Garden
Straw Bale Gardening
Sq ft Gardening
Lasagna Gardening

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Dec 18, Calamondin growing problem

by Paddy
(Cape Town)

My Calamondin - dwarf citrus in container, is not doing well. This fruit tree normally flourishes, and I feed and water regularly. It's well covered in leaves, but has not flowered this summer as yet. Leaves lack normal vibrant green colour. Help.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Feb 10, Controlling blackberry before doing a no dig garden

by mama mia
(woodacre, california)

the dreaded blackberry bushes!

hi, we live in northern california and have half an acre of south facing property, a bit sloping, and i am getting ready to make my no-dig garden with the layers, etc - i'm so excited and have all my little seedlings starting to sprout on the kitchen counter...

my one question is the about the blackberry bushes. about half of the gardening space is overgrown with them. can i cut them down to the roots and start the layers at ground level? or do i have to pull out the roots... please say i don't have to pull out the roots... :)

thanks for any advice!

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dec 18, Carrots in no-dig garden?

by Susan

I am putting together a no dig garden and am wondering, do I need to leave an area free (not mulched) for carrots and parsnips next spring, or can I sow those in situ then?

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Oct 26, Sq Ft Gardening - Square Foot Gardening -

Sq ft gardening, or square foot gardening, is also called a box garden... and you've guessed it... it's all done in small squares or boxes.

This is one of the easiest ways to garden. It makes gardening a pleasure for those who are frail or disabled.

So grab your pardner (or a spade) 1..2..3.. and let's go square dancin'!

But first a teensy bit of strenuous preparation. Build your garden first (the no-dig method naturally) using a solid boundary, such as planks, logs or tyres, around the edges.

Make your square foot garden beds long and narrow, or make a U-shaped bed, allowing for cultivation from either side without having to step on the garden. If your garden is against a wall, make it your arm's reach wide.

There are plenty of ways to mark out your squares or boxes. For example...

This one square foot garden size seems to be not too big, not too small, but just right... thanks Goldilocks! Really these sq ft garden plots mean no wastage, and make it easy to use the minimum of seed, thus a minimum, if any, of thinning. They are concentrated little factories of delicious plants.

Per square or box you can plant one cabbage, or two cucumbers, three marigolds, or four lettuces, 4 parsley, or eight beans, or 16 carrots, and so on.

As with all gardens, planning your square foot garden should take into account the usual rules, like north/south aspect for sun, water availability, and prevailing wind.

And because this neat little box gardening method is so suitable for the less-than-agile gardener, make the site as near the kitchen or living room as possible so you can easily nip out for some garnish, a lettuce leaf, or spot of maintenance.

After harvesting one square, add a trowel of compost, maybe some mulch and rotate with different plants, You can see that sq ft gardening is not at all daunting as you do it square by square over time if necessary.

Most work can be done seated, though some people prefer to kneel. You can lean down from an ordinary plastic chair, but don't strain your back. You may find a low bench seat with back support the best. Use an adjacent light chair to help yourself to rise by putting a hand on its seat.

Time to settle back, put your feet up and get into this method of sq ft gardening in a box...

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Feb 25, large winged flies damaging plants

by Harold Bowler
(Kempton Park Gauteng S.A.)

I have some sort of fly which is stinging my granadilla and maybe also my gems. It has wings that look to be too big for it's body which looks (without my glasses) as if it may be a shade of yellow. It may also be that they were what were stinging my peaches, sting marks leaking juice and causing them to be full of worms around the pips. Maybe even my pears, also leaking juice and full of worms.

Can anybody please help with a cure to kill off these pests as I also have cucumber starting to bear and I dread that they should go there too.
Thank you, Harold. +2782 869 0250

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Dec 4, concrete base for raised garden bed?

by Glenn
(Western Australia)

I am restricted to a concrete base in my raised garden, my garden is 3m x 1.5m x 1m deep.
I have put 300mm of pea straw in the base then layered sheep manure 2 cm thick, a layer of rich soil, then a sprinkle of blood and bone, then pea straw, then manure and so on. Then I topped it with 300mm of good quality soil and covered it over with mulch, all watered in with seasol seaweed solution.

My Question is, Have I done this correctly as my vegies are doing great (2 weeks on) or will I have problems from the concrete in the future?

Secondly, my garden has subsided a little with the decompsing of materials, do I just top it up with another couple of layers as in the first build or what is the go there?
Cheers Glenn

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sep 21, Why do caulitflower heads turn from white to pink

by Linda James
(York, UK)

I have a large allotment in York, England, and for the past two years I've grown cauliflowers and each time as the heads start to grow the florets have turn a pink colour (which disappears when I cook them). I wondered if it was a deficiency in the soil, or the fact I'm using water from the allotment standpipe?

We've had a really hot, humid summer this year and the cauliflowers 'pinked up' as soon as the heads formed. Would appreciate advice from anyone who has experienced the same problem.

Before closing I just want to say that your no-dig ideas are in operation all over the allotment site - fully embedded, if you'll pardon the pun!


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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nov 13, rolling and crimping cover crops


I have been thinking what the best way to grow a no till organic garden is. I think growing cover crops and then rolling and crimping them to kill them and form a mulch would be better than laying down mulch hay since that has to be harvested and probably takes a lot more energy to produce than a mulch crop directly seeded in the garden.

Does anyone have experience and suggestions for how to do this?

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