No Till Gardening
Too Good To Be True?

Suppose there was a way to dramatically reduce the amount of work you need to do in your garden?

In particular a way to cut down, or do away with completely, the amount of digging and weed control necessary whilst still maintaining the soil fertility essential to healthy plant growth.

Hmmm... I know what you're thinking, 'this sounds too good to be true...'

But it's not.

According to converts, no till gardening, or no dig gardening as it is also called, is a method of cultivation that actually delivers what it says on the packet.

Increased yields and plant health and... no digging!

So what exactly is meant by no till gardening?

The no till technique, also known variously as no dig gardening, sheet mulching and 'lasagna' gardening, seeks to work in harmony with nature by:

  • Eliminating digging, which destroys soil structure and prevents the development of the healthy and diverse population of soil organisms so necessary for plant growth.
  • Keeping the soil surface permanently covered and protected by vegetation, sheet mulches or a combination of both.

No till gardening has its origins in the practice of no till farming which arose from an increasing awareness of the devastating impact that we humans are having on the natural environment: an impact that has increased in line with technological developments.

This is occurring right across the board but in terms of farming, and, of course, gardening, which is a form of small scale farming, the effects are often illustrated by using the example of the Dust Bowl.

The prairie lands of North America had existed as a self sustaining eco-system for millennia but were reduced within a remarkably short space of time to a wasteland.

The cause is generally attributed to a period of sustained drought in the 1930's coupled with intensive farming practices such as deep ploughing, which destroyed the protective covering of vegetation.

This might seem an extreme example but it illustrates the potential effects of seeking to dominate nature rather than working with her.

No till gardening is a method of redressing the balance

Instead of digging the soil and turning it over to incorporate organic matter, no till gardeners spread the organic material on the surface in a series of sheet mulches and allow it to be incorporated into the soil by the action of earthworms. The tunnels that the worms create open up the soil and allow air and water to penetrate.

This, together with the fact that the soil is undisturbed, encourages the development of a thriving and diverse population of soil organisms which further break down the organic material releasing plant nutrients in the process.

No dig gardening isn't a brand new idea and many give the credit to Masanobu Fukuoka, a Japanese microbiologist who developed the natural farming method outlined in his books 'The One Straw Revolution' and 'The Natural Way of Farming'.

In Australia Esther Dean promoted a no dig sheet mulching system in her books 'No Dig Gardening and Leaves of Life' and 'Esther Dean's Gardening Book: Growing Without Digging'.

American Ruth Stout advocated a labour saving permanent mulching system in her books 'Gardening Without Work' and 'How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back' an idea that has been refined by Patricia Lanza who developed the mulch layering system described in 'Lasagna Gardening: New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens - No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!'

Whilst it can't be described as 'no work' gardening, no till gardening is certainly a form of 'less work' gardening - and that can't be bad, can it?

Need More Information?

Discover how no dig gardening works and join me as I seek advice on the secrets of a successful no dig vegetable garden and find out which sheet mulching materials are suitable for a no till garden.

Then follow me as I put the no dig technique to the test by creating my very own no dig garden. Was it as easy as it's made out to be?