After about 20 years of organic gardening, my husband and I are finally on the same page. Every year we would till the garden and occasionally our neighbors would disc it first, making it easier to till. Year after year, we battled weeds, bugs, and hard soil, along with the difficulty of getting into the garden after heavy spring rains. I would fight against the odds to get the produce for the summer/fall. Though I’d been requesting raised beds for several years, my husband felt the current spot was the best place for the garden and didn’t want to move it for raised beds. So we did what married couples do best; we compromised and made raised beds in our large garden plot. Thanks to the hard work of all my grown children and their families, my husband and I finally had our raised garden.
No Till Gardening
We placed straw around all the plants and in between the rows, and for the first time in 20 years, I didn’t have to spend days on end weeding my garden. My husband and I had finally seen the benefits of raised beds and ground cover. This past winter my husband did some research and suggested this year we try a new method we hadn’t considered before: Back to Eden gardening, also known as “lasagna gardening,” or “no till gardening”.
The idea behind no till gardening is not to disturb the beneficial microbes, and thus, the ecosystem of the soil in general. Composting organic matter around garden plants gives them all the nutrition they need. You don’t need chemical fertilizers in this type of garden. Finding organic material to put around your plants is very important, but we already had a head start on this with last year’s straw and left-over plants we laid on the ground before winter.
Organic Material for Ground Cover
The first thing I needed to do was contact a tree trimmer to ask if they could deliver wood chips to the house. You’d think that would be no problem but, living in the country as we do, most people cut down their own trees. I was eventually able to contact someone, and for a small fee (gas money for delivery) he dropped off a load of wood chips. The most wonderful thing about this: he has TONS more at his home decomposing in piles. We can pick up as much as we need all year long!
Preparing the garden is always important but this year, with no till gardening, my husband didn’t have to break his back turning the soil. My daughter, myself, and my 6-year-old granddaughter filled buckets with wood chips and emptied them in between all the rows and around the edges of the garden until we had layers approximately 6 – 8 inches thick. By doing this, we’re now able to step into the garden and get to the rows even after the heaviest of rains. The straw from last year is still on most of the raised rows and beds, too. We’ll be adding more straw around the plants, as well as the decomposed wood chips after we place our plants in the garden.
Another bonus of this technique is that the straw holds moisture in between rainfalls. Last year, I watered my garden only once. So, not only is this gardening style ecologically beneficial, it conserves on water usage as well.
I’ll keep you updated with the goings-on in our garden as we move into summer and fall. My goal is to inspire you to try out a new garden style for yourself. Join me outside while I play in the dirt!