Make A Speedy (But Slow) Garden Bed

no dig bedThis is a quick and easy way to make a new garden bed. I must warn you; though the construction is quick, the wait until its ready to plant is long. The waiting brings huge benefits, giving nature the opportunity to fully express herself and you the chance to well, wait for something. Oh wow!, that’s what you’ll say when you pull back the covers and check out the soil at the end (or perhaps it’s the beginning…)

  • Unplug your hose and use it to mark out the shape of your bed. Marinate on it a while. Walk around it, push a wheelbarrow round it, reach into it. Ponder shade from trees and buildings, ponder work-a-bility. Play with the shape.
  • Grub out pernicious, voracious weeds. Grass and other cruisers can stay put.
  • Lay cardboard all over the turf.
  • Pile up organic matter (OM) on top. I’ve used barley straw here – it’s what I had. Just use what you’ve got. If the new bed is to house vegies or berries or fruit I’d make a giant compost pile. For a herb or flower bed straw or similar dry browns are fine. Higher is better – it’ll shrink dramatically.

pile up the straw

Now you wait. Depending on the time of year and ingredients you use it’ll be 1 – 3 months until it rots down. The cardboard and turf return to the earth, the worms hear the call and come in droves and the OM breaks down as a village of microbes arrive at the latest housing development you’ve so kindly provided.

Once the topping has crumbled sprinkle on lime flour and sow a legume greencrop (on heavy soil you’ll need to go over the bed with a broadfork or fork to aerate). Pre flowering (another 8 weeks) chop it down and mulch the bed with it.

Oh wow! Check that soil out (worth the wait huh). Your new bed is in credit. Full of food, full of life. Let the planting begin!