I am a retired Food and Beverage Manager and have been a very keen gardener all my life. I am a Director on the committee at Tilling Drive Allotment Association CIC in Stone Staffordshire. I`m helping others turn their allotments / gardens onto the NoDig system.
What is NoDig gardening? Fundamentally, it is where you disturb the soil the least amount of times as possible. Instead of conventional digging, turning organic matter into the soil, I have used a layer of brown cardboard with no plastics or coating, you spread your organic compost over the top of the cardboard and plant seedlings into the compost. Having this base layer of organic matter encourages worms and microorganisms to come to the surface to feed, which in turn, produces a more fertile and stable base to grow your produce.
This way of gardening has many benefits, (not least – no more back breaking digging!) including a significant reduction in weeds and no need for bed preparation between crops. NoDig produces a good soil structure, draught resilience by retaining more water and reducing evaporation, which as a result, requires much less watering than traditional methods of gardening.
In January 2021 I turned my allotment into a NoDig plot, and for experimental comparison, I am recording everything harvested over a three year period. Throughout 2021 I noticed that there was a significant reduction in slug/aphid damage to my crop in comparison to the previous year. I was keen to continue producing a crop organically, the only feed I have used is a homemade fermented plant juice, extracted from nettles and sprayed as a foliage spray onto runner beans as another experiment.
Since starting to harvest (April –December 2021) we have enjoyed a total of nearly 194kilos of produce. Given that my allotment is only a half plot at 100 square metres, I am growing as much seasonable vegetables as possible. I could see the benefits of NoDig gardening immediately and without any effort.
I have found that, combined with sowing seeds at the right time, this way of gardening produces excellent, bountiful produce. I sow all my seed using the Wining and Waxing moon phases, which give seeds that little extra help with germination making a healthier and stronger plant.
Having just completed my first year of NoDig Gardening I am convinced this is the way forward for me.
Neil Wilson has created “Neil Wilson’s NoDig Allotment” group on Facebook if you would like to find out more about his allotment.