No fuss veg growing
Did you know that turning over your garden soil is not necessarily the best thing for your kitchen crops? Bill Kerr tells you more.
There is a way to grow vegetables by allowing nature to do all the hard work for you while your soil improves and your vegetables become tastier. The veggies will also have a higher food value, including higher levels of phyto-nutrients which help your body to fight off disease.
When we dig the soil, we create an unnatural soil condition where we have too much air in the soil – this causes certain soil bacteria to increase. These bacteria then eats away at the organic matter in the soil. We also scramble the soil particles which were in good order and had just the right amount of air in them and the right consistency to allow good water penetration. The bottom line is that turning the soil throws all the different soil organisms out of balance, so the secret to success is to not till your soil!
The most practical way to set up a vegetable garden is to make lines across the garden 1m apart. Using a hand hoe, pull the soil up from these lines, forming a raised ‘bed’ which will stay in place forever. You now have useful paths between the raised beds. Before making these beds, it is a good idea to spread manure and/or a balanced fertiliser over the area. If the soil is very hard, add compost and dig it in. This is where the hard work stops.
Now collect dry grass as a mulch and spread it over the beds to prevent weeds growing, to retain moisture and to regulate soil temperature. Plant your seedlings into the soil so that they stick out above the mulch. You can clear strips to sow seeds directly and then push the grass mulch up against them when they have grown sufficiently. Keep adding mulch when necessary and manure occasionally and feed the earthworms and soil micro-organisms which will manage the soil perfectly and naturally without ever having to dig again.