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No-dig vegetable gardens, much easier than you think

A no-dig veggie garden is a fun project for homes. It is a simple concept. you use the nutrients already available in the soil to make beautiful plants. Soils are very complex ecosystems that get disturbed when we move them around. There is cheap labour that you can get in the soil itself, those little earthworms can do all the hard work for us, plus the waste from your kitchen vegetable leftovers, egg shells, fish, teabags and coffee grounds make the most amazing compost and all purpose fertiliser. Who knows, you might get to a point where you have a fully self sustained garden that uses its own seeds to replant itself.

Let me explain the basics here:

  1. Plan, plan, plan: Study your garden, see the amount of sun it has in the summer and winter, also see how you will be accessing your garden. your worst enemy will be yourself, wherever you walk you will destroy the soil, so access paths will be extremely important to plan. I can help you with this part, find me at, take pictures of your garden and send them over.

  2. Mark your garden: I prefer using macrocarpa slippers and make boxes, but this is not a requirement, there is no rule about that, so long as you mark your area to accdess and your ares to plant, you can use spray, string, cardboard (this is particularly handy for step 3). Imagine yourself maintaining the garden, where you will kneel, how you reach the further corners, again, I have done it a few times before, so ask me if you need.

  3. lay cardboard: cardboard and newspapers are great sources of carbon. but the browner the better. avoid cardboxes with waxed or heavy ink on them. Newspapers are good if handy and so is normal paper, but remember paper is not naturally white, there are bleaching agents in paper. its no big deal, I just need to mention it for understanding. Also, get rid of any plastic tape, it's no good to the garden. 5 mm is thick enough to stop any weeds getting through, a double layer of cardboard usually does it. I wet my cardboard before I lay it easier it takes the shape of the ground that way, but then again, I am always wet and muddy ( I know, not selling a good image of myself here).

  4. lay mulch/straw: and also some of your dry leafs in the winter, they are great starters and already would have the bacteria we want. I get my hands in all sorts of beautiful mulch from the gardens I prepare for customers and i can transport it to you if you are in Dunedin. Or we can mulch some of your own garden too. I have the machines for that. 5 cm is good, more is better, how much do you have?

  5. lay compost/manure: simple, just put it on top of the mulch, again 5 cm is good, more is better. If you are a cheap date like me, then save all your kitchen veggies, you will be surprise how much rubbish you will save. Tip: buy a worm farm and put your leftover veggies, find a few worms (I have millions if you want them) and chuck them in. you will be ready for step 8. you will also be making natural fertiliser at the bottom of the worm farm, no chemicals added.

  6. lay mulch again. Just like step 4, no difference, apart from it will be a bit higher

  7. lay manure again, just like step 5. Ask around for free horse or chicken poo (I find chicken poo great to start my tomatoes) and let it dry before you add it. less smelly and any harmful gases will be gone once dry.

  8. put top soil. I make a big effort to do this, i find other places where there is decent soil and then get rid of all rocks and clumps the thiner it is, the nicer to work.

  9. add some worms. this is optional, but the more you have the more you are going to get done

  10. Start your seedlings. This is all season dependent but the general rule is to use a tray, with starting mix, plant your seeds, keep them moist and water regularly away from direct sun. I will make a new article about this.

  11. Transplant into planting beds: this is around 3 weeks of growing or when the seedlings are good to handle. some take more or less. Again, this is a whole other article altogether

  12. look after your veggies: Plenty of different ways to keep your garden looking healthy, any small weeds rake or cut away when small, but leave them on the ground, they are actually good for the soil.

When your crop is ready, send me some pictures of your proud work and I will be more than glad to show them to everyone.

Have fun!!

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