Starting a Garden Without Digging

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Step1 impatiens_Thumb.jpg

Find the area where you would like to plant. Depending on what you want to grow, consider how much sun the area gets. If you are choosing a shady area, you might want to grow impatiens there as they do well in low light and are easy to grow. If it is a full sun area, you could also grow vegetables. Zucchini and crook neck squash are easy to grow and very prolific and will do well using this method. I haven’t tried it, but I hear that potatoes also do well this way.

Step2 border_Thumb.jpg this border is made out of pressure treated wood.

I would not recommend pressure treated wood as it may leach chemicals that can harm your plants.  I would suggest using bricks, bamboo or concrete.  Now outline the area you wish to plant with bricks,stones,landscaping ties or some other type of edging. Keep in mind that you are making sort of a raised bed, so your edge needs to be fairly high (6-8 inches)

Step3 Trample the weeds in the area. Don’t dig them up, just flatten them. If there are some w/ woody stems, you ought to trim them all the way down to the ground.

Step4 newspaper_Thumb.jpg

Cover the area with a couple of layers of newspaper. Overlap the edges. The idea is to kill the weeds by not allowing them any light.

Step5 topsoil_Thumb.jpg

Dump the topsoil or garden soil on top of the newspaper. Keep piling it on until its about 3 inches or more  thick over the area within the border you created.

Step6 Now you are ready to plant. You can plant just about anything that has a shallow root system or will be strong enough to penetrate the newspaper. Or, as you plant, you can punch a hole in the paper and dig into what used to be the surface, just a little.

Step7 worm_Thumb.jpg

The earthworms and other hardworking invertebrates will take care of the newspaper over time. It will disappear in a couple of years and you will be left with a garden bed with several inches of good soil on the top. You can add more each spring and stir it up a bit before you plant again.

Step8 hay_Thumb.jpg alfalfa hay used as mulch

After planting, water everything very well and lay some hay, grass clippings, leaves or other mulch on top to keep it from drying out (until your plants are well established). You will need to water frequently, depending on how much rain you get.


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