SOMETIMES THE BEST way to improve something is to let it be.
A no-till garden is a perfect example, and creating one also means less work for you. Imagine building a large garden without having to turn over the soil in your garden beds.
Turning soil kills the microbes living beneath the ground that contribute to a healthier root system by living symbiotically with your roots.
There are billions of bacteria, millions of fungi, thousands of protozoa, and scores of other nematodes and organisms found in one small tablespoon of healthy soil.
Hacking your garden soil with a few simple no-till tips can make for hugely successful growing because you keep those vital creatures alive and happy in your garden beds. A no-till garden has other benefits.
Because you are consistently smothering weeds with mulch or compost, they struggle to grow there. And undisturbed, enriched soil requires far less fertilizer in order to support successful plants.
The no-till technique works in almost any garden space and can help grow extremely healthy organic vegetables and herbs.
The living lab vegetable garden pictured above was grown with the no-till method. Organic fertilizer was placed in the planting holes at the time of planting.
HOW TO CREATE A NO-TILL GARDEN
Instead of turning over your soil for a garden, start by smothering all the grass using the sheet mulching method. See “Sheet Mulching Away Unwanted Grass by Smothering It”
1. Put down a 2 inch layer of aged manure or compost on top of cardboard.
2. Dig holes to plant your plants.
3. Mulch the garden the first year with wood chips or another natural mulch, such as pine needles, rotted leaves or straw.
4. After the harvest at the end of the season, do not pull out the vegetable or herb plants by the root; cut their stems at the base of the soil and leave the roots in the ground to overwinter and eventually rot. Compost the cut plant matter.
5. Next planting year, cover the garden with another 2-inch layer of compost.
6. When planting new vegetables and herbs, only pull out roots from the previous year if they block an area for a new plant. Be sure to rotate the crop so that no plant from the previous season is planted in the same location in the current year.
7. In your third planting year, follow the same practices, but add a layer of mulch instead of a layer of compost.
8. In your fourth planting year, follow the same practices, but add a layer of soil instead of a layer of mulch.
9. In the fifth planting year, follow the same practices, but add a layer of aged manure instead of a layer of soil.
10. In the sixth planting year, follow the same practices, but add a layer of compost instead of aged manure.
11. Continue every season layering up the compost, mulch, and aged manure without ever turning it over.