Tag Archives: compost

To Dig or not to Dig, that is the Question…


[This is the view from the butcher’s shop where our pigs have been sent.]


I learned about No Dig gardening whilst on my current permaculture know how binge. It seems like an impossible dream; wildly abundant vegetable gardens without any back breaking digging.  This seems particularly important to me at the moment because (as you may remember from earlier posts) we have just started to get acquainted with our heavy clay soil. J has never been convinced but I made him watch this video and he is starting to come round to the idea.


Digging heavy clay is hard, horrible and not very rewarding so the No Dig approach seems to really help with that.  The main stumbling block seems to be manure/compost.  It seems like you need vast, vast quantities of the stuff to get started.

But I don’t think this is a bad thing, I have been saying for years that we need to be adding much much more manure etc. to our veg gardens to improve yields. We just need to get hold of it.  Firstly we live right next door to a field of horses, we have a loose arrangement that we can take as much as we need as long as the owner has enough for his allotment.  This is great but I think if we are going to adopt this approach we will need even more.  So we are composting everything we can but we are not yet in grass clipping or leaf season and so we are not producing much more than our usual veggie peelings.  Over time I’m sure things will get better – but it seems like it is going to take us a while to get up to speed.  However it is pruning season right now and that is helping a bit.

The prunings go into three piles

1. long, straight (ish) prunings go into the pea and bean cane pile – I used to buy pea and bean canes from the garden centre but thanks to a big garden with lots of trees (and the learning about permaculture i’ve been doing) I’m hoping to completely cut that cost out completely.

2. Twiggy bits of wood from the apple and cherry trees go into the kindling pile for seasoning for our wood burning stove.

3. Everything else is being shredded – so far we have produced 5 big bags of mulch which have been used on the Dogwood and the fruit bushes but any more will go on the compose heap.

Hopefully nothing will have to go into the green bin for the council to collect except the Christmas tree (my experience is that pine needles etc are rubbish for compost).  Right now compost and manure are a vital resource in this family and I can’t be giving the raw material away to the council for free!