Put Away Your Shovel & Try No Dig System

As we head towards the spring we can turn our attention to preparing the vegetable garden for the forthcoming growing season. This can be a pain in the side for gardeners as the shear work load involved in preparing; turning, cultivating, weeding and raking the vegetable plot can really take its toll. The shovel can be put to some serious use over this time

However, you may be happy to read that new research would suggest that the less shovel work and less digging you do the better results you may get in the garden. Some people may already be convinced that less work is more and instantly adopt this new approach, but if your less convinced or just curious to find out more then read on

Four reasons why the no dig system / shovel free gardening is better:
Soil’s seed bank: Our garden soil is full of thousands of seeds that are sitting and waiting for the opportunity to germinate. These seeds can persist for decades in the soil. One way to stimulate these seeds is by digging the soil and as your shovel turns the soil the seeds may be brought closer to the soil surface. This in turn creates the ideal growing conditions for the seeds and will lead to germination. The end result therefore is the more you dig the more weeds you are encouraging to sprout

Micro Organisms are very essential for soils and for plant growth. These tiny follows live a delicate life and don’t like to be disturbed. The process of double digging and turning soils can have a detrimental effect on these creatures. For example tiny fungi that prefer existing deep under the soil surface free from the risk of drying out in the sun can end up on the soil surface with one turn of a shovel. Here these fungi may not survive and the vice versa is also likely. This means that digging will again kill our soil’s micro organisms and also our hard working worms

Fragmentation of perennial weed roots is another concern when digging soils. The main goal of digging a vegetable plot each spring is to remove weeds and stones. But with perennial roots such as those of dandelions, nettles, scutch grass and thistles getting chopped up by the action of the shovel we are in fact creating new weeds rather than removing them

Soils in nature and the wild survive quite well without any intervention from shovels or any form of cultivation. So, rather than interfere with our soils it is now advised that we allow nature take its course and that we merely work in tandem with nature