30 Mar 14
Don't Dig It
by Costa Georgiadis
The “no-dig” garden can seem like a bit of a strange concept to a new gardener, loading them up with questions like, “How do you not dig when you are gardening?” “Isn’t a shovel the first thing you pick up when you go outside?”, or “What will I do if I am not digging?” The idea of the no-dig garden was originally developed by Ester Dean back in the 1970s. She was frustrated when trying to grow a garden in heavy clay soil, so she decided to just build it above the clay. So, from Esther’s frustration, the no-dig garden phenomena began. Today, this simple technique, begun by Esther and her husband, has been used – and is continually being adapted – by gardeners everywhere.
CASE STUDY: LEONIE SHANAHAN
When it comes to no-dig gardening, Leonie Shanahan has been using this technique in schools and gardens with great success. In her book, “Eat Your Garden”, Shanahan outlines what it is that makes the no-dig method so simple and yet so successful:
Australian soils are old and tired and we need to add ‘food’ to them to bring life into our vegetable beds. No-dig gardens are fun to set up and can be planted into within weeks, and then you will have produce that is bursting out of the ground absolutely filled with goodness that you can feel and taste.
Shanahan has been running an Edible School Garden program on the Sunshine Coast, where she works with staff and students to bring the importance of growing and eating fresh food into the daily play space of children. In each garden, she sees certain patterns of success repeat themselves. She says,
The health of the vegetables - they grow quickly, but not force-fed unnaturally - as well as their colour and texture is vibrant and the plants are not bothered by pests. No-dig gardens are creating a life-force in the soil that is supporting these plants fully.
Shanahan sees the big picture in terms of the no-dig system being the starting point of building a garden ecosystem from the soil up, saying “if you put the hard work in at the start, you will reap the rewards", She connects the importance of soil health with plant and produce health and then, of course, to our human health.
What is happening in our soil is reflected in our plants and our health. There are no short cuts; we need to support our soild by having compost systems, adding minerals, worm castings, mulch etc - all materials to create an abundance of life in the soil. If you want to be truly healthy and vibrant, you need to grow soil fertility for your food.
Click here to download the 'Don't Dig It' article by Costa Georgiadis
FMTV Special - It is such an honour to be recognised as a passionate leader in children’s health by Food Matters with the Edible School Gardens DVD being included on FMTV (FoodMatters TV), a live streaming wellness site.
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