Easy Layer Gardening – Gardening Without Digging!

by Maia C

Easy Layer Gardening – Gardening Without Digging!

Digging is definitely not one of my favorite garden chores, but until now it had to be done!

Layer gardening is a garden building system that calls for no digging, no tilling, no weeding, hardly any tending – no kidding! You simply layer organic matter & plant your plants!

1. One of the great advantages of this style of gardening is, you can have your garden where ever you’d like, even if there is no soil in that spot! Because we are building the soil up & not digging down into it, good soil is not an issue! You could even have your new garden on top of a bed of stone, or an old driveway if you so choose!

2. Lay down a layer of moist newspaper or cardboard. These can be found at the recycle center, behind department stores, or at curbside – all free of charge! Not only does this help to keep weeds down, but the material also helps provide organic matter as it decomposes.

3. The next step is to layer different kinds of organic materials. There is no set rule for what type of material you “have” to use – it can be almost anything you can find:

* Animal manure – Any farmer will be more than happy to let you cart off bunches of this black gold – free!

* Compost – You most likely have a pile of compost in your yard already. This is the spot you throw your kitchen scraps, leaves, sod, etc.

* Grass clippings – Almost all summer we will soon be overrun with clippings!

* Hay – When horse farmers (or any farmer for that matter) clean out the stalls, you could take this “enriched” hay to use in your garden – free.

* Leaves – again, these can be had for the taking all around town during the leaf dropping season. You can also check with your local public works dept. They will usually have lots of clippings you can take free of charge.

* Peat Moss – One of the cheapest items in the garden center.

* Sawdust – A local sawmill will have a bountiful supply, probably free for the asking. (never use pressure treated wood or sawdust in your food garden)

* Seaweed – If you live near water, gather the unsightly seaweed to feed your garden!

* Wood Ashes – Do you or a friend have a fireplace/woodstove? If so, there is probably a mound of ashes somewhere in the yard, that would welcome removal!

Layer the items as you get them, then moisten the pile. It is best to let this pile “rest” for a few weeks, turning it if you can, to keep your plant’s roots from getting “burned” by direct contact with some of the items such as ashes from your woodstove.

After a few weeks, the only thing left to do is plant your plants! To plant, simply pull back the contents to make small holes in the top of your garden & insert the plant. Then, push everything back around the rootball. If you would like to plant seeds directly into this garden, scatter some sifted soil in the area that you’d like to plant – then sow the seeds.

Throughout the season, you can continue to build up this layer garden by adding more ingredients as you come by them. It’s also a great idea to start more garden beds for next year! 

Layer gardening is very contagious when you see how easy it is to grow luscious produce with such little effort! I know you won’t want to stop!

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