Although this is strictly a bird blog I just couldnt help engaging in some taradiddle about my No-dig Garden that I created two years ago and now is in it's second season... there is a bird of sorts involved so it sort of qualifies. My garden is not quite Versailles, it's more unkempt, rustic, bucolic and homely.
And so it was on the occasion of one feeble, fleeting moment I had an untimely notion that I might do some gardening... so I planted myself down on the wicker couch under the shade of our bull-nosed verranda with the dog and read a book until the idea went away...
Esther Deans, an Australian gardener, was the pioneering ground-breaker for no-dig gardens in Australia. Her legacy lives on in gardens all over Australia producing healthy organic vegetables to the delight and nourishment of their owners.
So this how I did mine. No-kidding, the essence of a No-dig garden is no digging... so the inference is no back breaking work... but the name doesn't mention lugging around Red Gum sleepers large enough to span the East River without getting the bends...
I decided to construct my no-dig garden using Red Gum sleepers on a patch of spare lawn. Lugging them around is similar to building the Panama Canal without the malaria... what was that about no back breaking work... anyway, anyway... first went down the bottom layer of sleepers.
After an extended lie down I staggered about lifting another layer lot of sleepers in place on top of the bottom layer without shattering my toes, ankles, wrists and self esteem. No-dig gardens are all about building up layers of organic materials... ogres and onions have layers... until the garden bed is full up. The first layer I used was lots of throughly inundated cardboard which saves having to break it up to stuff into the recycling bin every fortnight.
While I was lying down during one of my recovery periods I thought up an ingeneous method of holding the sleepers in place. Nails are a waste of time... sleepers just laugh at nails so I went to the hardware super store and bought a 23 mm auger and bored vertical holes right down through both layers of sleepers. Then I cut up some 20 mm steel water pipe that just happenned to be minding its own business behind the shed into rough lengths and hammered them vertically down into the holes and hey-presto - the Fort Knox of No-dig garden constructions.
Step 65b: Spread wet newspaper on top of the cardboard and hay on the newspaper. I got particular pleasure from placing photos of politicians and other time wasters facing upwards knowing that a little later I was going to cover them in horse manure... particularly those socialist, cafe-dwelling, tree-huggers... but this is a strictly non-political bird blog!
Next I bought a cubic metre of mushroom compost and some lucerne hay or pea straw... one or the other because my No-dig garden in now two years old and I can't remember whether I used lucerne hay or pea-straw but one is as good as the other. So I layered them up... almost to the top.
FLast but not least I spread my own compost that I had made during the previous winter and promptly called on the local Magpie Lark to inspect it who reported it to be satisfactory...
... and this it what it looked like a few weeks later. Everything growing like billy-oh! Lettuce, spinnach, beetroot, cucumber, basil, tomatoes... all close together and growing vigorously. I built a frame to put sunshade on to protect the plants from the harsh Adelaide summer sunshine... a few planter boxes for some extra decoration and some basil... surrounded it with a path of clay pavers as a lawn barrier and a rain gauge in the forlorn hope that some rain will come.
The second summer garden. The Red Gum frame has mellowed into a shade of weathered grey and is blending into the rest of my garden beds. The level of the soil had dropped over the intervening two years as the hay decomposed so I added a new layer of compost I had made over the winter. No digging needed, just planted a winter crop and then the this summer crop. Note in the top left corner my African Keyhole Garden which is a slight modification on the original African Keyhole Garden in that it's not African, has no key hole and is not round. For my next gardenning blog... how I built an African Keyhole Garden.