I thought I would share with you the process for building a ‘no dig’ bed. We have learnt this from our Charles Dowding organic veg book. I’m not sure we’re doing it quite right – Charles leaves areas covered with carpet or black plastic for months before building the bed but we have been impatient and skipped this step so that we can get growing a bit quicker. As a result, we suffer with the dock popping up all over the place. Hopefully there won’t be as much next year. We also only use wood chip and rotted manure as that’s what we have freely available, with a little of our home made compost as it’s available. Our vegetable beds probably aren’t the most nutrient rich at the moment but seems to be OK for what we are currently growing. We will be adding as much home made compost as we can when it’s available.
The first ‘layer’ is cardboard. It needs to be a decent layer with good overlapping. We probably should have used a bit more elsewhere on the plot so for this bed we made sure we didn’t scrimp on this step. The cardboard should be thoroughly soaked with water (we have found it easier to do this after laying it).
Next we added a layer of well rotted manure, then wood chip. We then built up much thicker layers of manure and wood chip until we were happy with the depth, finishing with the manure layer. The Charles Dowding book and website are well worth a look to see how he builds his beds. Looking at the bed now it’s finished, it’s a little big. The no dig method also relies on not compacting the soil by standing on it and so the beds are generally a bit smaller to facilitate this. I can reach the middle from both sides but we made this bed much deeper than all the others, so with the hight it can be a little difficult to reach properly without standing on it. I will have to make sure I always stand on a board to avoid compacting it too much.