No Dig for perennials

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  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 3,524
    I think Hippophae is making the real point on this - the intention of 'no dig' is not so much about not digging as about developing and maintaining a healthy soil ecology and that relies on having lots of dead stuff on it to feed the micro-organisms and fungi that make the soil. The equivalent of 'no dig' in a perennial bed is 'no bare soil'. You need to use ground cover and mulch so the soil surface is never bare earth from which water evaporates and into which weeds can seed.
    It's hard to love, there's so much to hate
    Hanging on to hope when there is no hope to speak of
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen SpainPosts: 2,258
    That’s true, raisingirl, tho achieving the state of ‘no bare soil’ is tricky. For example, many of my perennials and roses are still young and need space inbetween to grow and fill out, so I don’t want to crowd them out with ground cover plants or hungry annuals.

    My main perennial beds are heavily mulched with ericaceous compost - in an attempt (probably futile) to balance out the very alkaline soil - and I find weed seeds are much less likely to germinate in this than in the veg beds which get ordinary compost and bagged manure. Perennial weeds don’t seem to thrive there either. I have no idea if that is just coincidence or whether the ericaceous compost is providing a hostile environment for local weeds...
  • gr.letleygr.letley Posts: 24
    Can you walk on no dig soil?
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 3,524
    gr.letley said:
    Can you walk on no dig soil?
    You can but it's better to avoid it as much as possible. Use boards to spread your weight when you're working in the bed, to reduce compaction.

    @Nollie a thick surface mulch is 'no bare soil' - it's covering the native soil and inhibiting evaporation. I have the opposite problem to you - heavy wet acidic clay - so some areas of my garden are 'mulched' with a thick layer of grit and others with rotted manure mixed with compost which is quite limey. 
    It's hard to love, there's so much to hate
    Hanging on to hope when there is no hope to speak of
  • gr.letleygr.letley Posts: 24
    We are clay as well. Over time we have dug in manure, various compost and different plants.
    The garden is also south facing, so when it's hot, it bakes.
    Both me and hubby are fit, but we both have arthritis, so a no dig garden seems to be the solution.
  • Bee witchedBee witched Scottish BordersPosts: 454
    Hi @Hippophae,

    Thanks for the book recommendation .... I've managed to find it as a free pdf.    blush

    My garden is 2 acres ... the soil is very poor as it was a former sawmill .... but we make epic amounts of compost / shreddings / leafmould etc, and apply as a thick mulch over the beds each year. It really works .... I no longer need a pickaxe to plant a shrub!

    I've created all the beds to be workable from both sides so I don't need to walk on the soil often.

    I agree about the value of ground cover and "no bare soil" .... hardy geraniums are my "go to" plant for this .... easy to split and spread, and some are evergreen.

    Bee x



      image  Bees must gather nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey 
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen SpainPosts: 2,258
    Do you think a mulch of the opposite PH to your soil helps more with the weed suppression @raisingirl or is that just my imagination? Do you notice a difference? I wonder if anyone has ever done any experiments...

    I use stepping stones in the border to prevent compacting the soil/stop me treading on plants.
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