We’ve been keeping fit here at Carlowrie with our own little work out on the raised beds. Double digging is a great way to open up compacted or previously uncultivated soil. It also keeps us warm on cooler days. Our students, Nathan and John, finished preparing their beds last week without even breaking into a sweat. Although I did hear someone mention something about hard work.
With thirty new beds we’ve opted to trial some no-dig cultivation too. This may sound like no effort, and certainly less energy is expended than with digging, but the various materials still have to be barrowed and emptied over the beds.
My favourite no-dig method is the “lasagne bed”. Anyone who knows me will understand that the name alone is enough to make me try this out. If only there was a “Victoria sponge” or “cream scone” technique! The process involves layering up cardboard, grass clippings, leaves and our own home made compost just like making a lasagne. The material will rot down slowly over the winter with the help of worms and other soil fauna to produce a nutrient rich growing medium that retains moisture but is also free draining. Perfect conditions to grow our vegetables.