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How To Build a “No Dig” Vegetable Garden

No Dig Vegetable Garden

No Dig Vegetable Garden

Would you like to grow your own fresh vegetables at home, but your backyard is totally paved?

Are you finding the shovel work difficult when its time to turn the vegie patch over?

Does the thought of sore knees and a bad back put paid to any thought of “growing your own” fresh greens?

Fear not, the No Dig Vegetable Garden is for you.

No Dig or “Lasange” gardening was developed and promoted in Australia in the 70’s by Sydney gardener Esther Dean. Championed in her book “ESTHER DEAN’S GARDENING BOOK”. Growing without digging – No-Dig gardening

Basically, a No Dig garden is made on TOP of the ground instead of in it.

They can be built on existing vegie patches, lawns, pavers or rocks, and because they can be placed virtually anywhere (sun permitting), you’re not constrained by size and shape issues.

They’re easy to make from timber (never use treated timbers for the external frame, hardwoods only) or galvanized corrugated iron. You can also purchase recycled fruit bins from companies like Eco Mad that are perfect for the job.

They’re virtually maintenance free, and if you build the frames high enough, as the photo shows, you won’t have to bend down to tend to your vegies ever again.

Sounds complicated? It’s really easy. Please read on.

1. Make sure that you choose a position that gets at least 5 hours sunlight a day, has easy access for you, and preferably, a wheelbarrow as well.

Prepare the site for your garden bed and frame as best as possible. Level out the ground by “cutting into” any slopes or mounds with a shovel (fear not, the end is nigh!), and make sure you mow any lawn that may eventually be situated under the bed.

2. Now it’s time for your carpentry skills to come into play. You don’t have to build it three levels high as in the photo. One border of 200 x 50mm hardwood is an ample frame and barrier, and, will of course, take a lot less to fill. But remember, the lower you build it, the lower you have to bend! No need to dress it up all fancy like the photo either. Just screw the corners together with Tech or Coach Screws into a block for support, and, if you’re going to make it 1.5 metres or longer, then add a block in the centre as well.

3. OK, lets start making our “lasagne”. Lay down a base of thoroughly wet newspaper at least 5 mm thick. Make sure you don’t leave any gaps, and overlap them well. Please use plain newspaper only, no glossies or colour artwork.

4. Sprinkle an even 20 mm layer of organic fertiliser such as chook or cow manure as your next layer.

5. Lay down a 100 mm layer of Lucerne Hay, this can be substituted with cheaper products such as pea straw, but alternatives will lack the nitrogen of Lucerne. Again, making sure that the hay “biscuits” are tight against each other and you’ve got an even coverage, including the edges, water the Lucerne hay slightly.

6. Sprinkle another 20 mm layer of manure or organic fertiliser.

7. Cover this evenly with 200 mm of straw.

8. To finish, cover all this with 100 mm of well rotted garden compost.


To plant, just form a pocket in the compost layer and plant seedlings straight in.

Although it’s fine to start planting straight away, some root vegetables and beans will appreciate being planted once the pile has reduced and turned into ‘Black Gold’

Always make sure that the garden bed is well watered.

As the layers break down, you’ll need to keep topping up the bed with organic matter (no problem now as you’ve read my last blog and built your very own compost pile). The bed will reduce in height by approximately 50% over the next few months, so be prepared to keep topping up rather than piling it on all in one go.

Happy Gardening.

Bye for now

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