You may remember last spring when I showed you my brand new no-dig beds in our potager. I was happy with the way they looked, but had no way of knowing how they were going to behave as the season moved on and most of all whether the utopian promise of “no more weeds” would be fulfilled!
So many of you were kind enough to share your own experience with no-dig beds, or ‘lasagne compost’, that I thought you may like an update at the end of this first growing season.
For those who didn’t follow this chapter, my no-dig beds are basically my former potager, with a new wattle fence around and covered with a thick layer of cardboard then alternative layers of compost, dried leaves, mulch, grass cuttings, more compost etc. I finished with a layer of straw and several of my readers were concerned that the straw would attract slugs, but so far we have been lucky, and actually it seems that the straw prevented stray seeds blowing into the beds.
Having created the beds in November last year, I kept a close eye on things as the winter came to an end. No weeds in view! The spring and summer were spent planting young tomato plants, salads, herbs. Still no weeds! In the rest of the garden we were spending hours pulling weeds and digging over beds, but in the no-dig potager, all we had to do was plant, water and enjoy! It seemed too good to be true.
My first attempt at sowing beans did not go well, the young sprouts were devoured by some greedy caterpillars, but when I resowed a few weeks later, having installed two tall home-made wigwam climbing frames, the caterpillars had disappeared and the beans shot up towards the sky at high speed.
So here we are in late September. There are still tomatoes and beans to pick, some eggplant too. We finished all the salads, and we are waiting for the brussel sprouts, and eating lots of rhubarb and still I have hardly seen a weed! I am very happy! So much so that in November we are emptying this mixed border at the end of the garden and making it into a no dig flower bed that will be replanted in the spring. Hopefully for maximum colour and minimum maintenance!
And now I have a question for those of you who already have experience with these no-dig beds. At the end of the season, my plan is to cut back the surviving plants and simply leave them where they fall, then cover again with alternate layers of compost, leaves and mulch until next year. But I’m wondering about the cardboard? Would it be useful for me to use a layer of card again, or is that only necessary when you first create the beds and need to suffocate existing weeds?
I hope you are enjoying this change of season wherever you are in the world, thank you for reading me and thank you for your precious help with my garden plans.