Due to the state of the world, many people are trying their hand at gardening. With a food scarcity scare, and the increasing frustration of just trying to go to the store, a garden makes sense. The more land you have available, the more food you can grow to sustain you. A small back yard can produce an amazing amount of food.
But before you plant, you need to prepare. Can you just dig a hole and plant? Sure you can. But if you’re going to spend the time, effort, and money, you want the healthiest, most productive plants you can get.
Look at a forest, it’s lush, it’s green and not one person is back there with a hose or a rake. Why is this? Forests are self mulching. Now, I know we’re accustomed to the commercial term of mulch so we’ll get down to what we’re really talking about: compost. As branches and leaves fall, grasses die, they rot. Healthy bugs, microbes and fungi decompose that material creating lush, moist, nutritious food for the forest. So the forest, literally feeds itself.
The no dig compost method is the absolute best around. You’re mimicking what nature has showed you what works. It’s organic, free of commercial chemicals so you know you’re getting exactly what nature intended.
Preparing your ground
So you want to start no dig but you’re looking at ground full of grass or weeds, so what do you do? First, plot out where you want your space. Mow it down if weeds are really tall. (This is for your convenience, not necessary if you don’t want to do it.)
Next, place a single layer of cardboard (brown cardboard, not colored as you don’t want that ink or wax in your food. You could also use garden fabric, but cardboard works best to block the light out. This will kill the weed/grass underneath by not letting any light in.
Atop of your cardboard add a thick layer of compost. Since you probably don’t have your own compost pile yet, commercial compost is fine to start off with. If you can mix in a bit of Black Kow manure (comes in bags,) then you’re off to a really great start.
Now you’re ready to plant. You don’t even have to wait. Just plant right in the compost!
Start your compost heap
Build a box if you can. There are several ideas on pintrest on compost bins. Pallets! You can make a 3 sided compost bin from pallets. The possibilities are endless. Just make sure it has contact with the ground because you want those bugs and microbes working their way through your compost bin.
You want a 50/50 mix of green and brown debris. Green things include, weeds, vegetable kitchen scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds (these are rich in nitrogen which wood chip uses to decompose.) Toss egg shell in there as well.
Brown things include wood chip, cardboard, dead leaves and twigs. Remember, use only brown cardboard.
You will see steam rising from your compost heap. This is completely normal. As the compost decomposes, it heats up. It can get up to 170 degrees! If you’re fortunate enough to know a farmer, you can add a bit of manure in there too. This is a great ingredient to add to your compost heap. Remember, there are all kinds of wildlife in the forest dropping poo. Poo is good. (Dog poo isn’t so good because how their food is designed.)
I hope this helps take the mystery out of getting your soil ready. Of course, if these are not options for you, you can get a N/P/K organic fertilizer from your local garden center, clear the grass, and plant in the ground and you’ll still get food. Good food you can eat!