Restoring the Old Kitchen Garden using no dig beds

We are in the process of restoring part of the Old Kitchen Garden, trying to evoke the lush and bountiful yield of Mrs Greville’s time. We decided to try an environmentally sustainable called a No Dig system.

What does no dig mean?

It's not an attempt to reduce our work load!

It’s a little known fact that digging can actually damage soil structure.  ‘No dig’ is the best way to ensure the soil is kept healthy by ‘feeding it’ with a layer of mulch every year, between autumn and winter, increasing its fertility.  We use our own home-made garden compost. There's no need to incorporate it; fertility building from the top imitates natural processes, where organic matter always lands on the soil's surface. Worms and soil fauna travel upwards to find their food.

Sumptuous squash and lush leaves
Fantastic squash and lush leaves
Sumptuous squash and lush leaves

Throughout the soil there is a proliferation of beneficial bacteria and fungi such as mycorrhizae. They help plant roots find nutrients and moisture, which may often have been present already, but sometimes remains unavailable to roots if biological activity is low.

Soil structure

No dig allows soil to develop its own aerated structure, so that vegetables and flowers are able to grow more easily. Weeds grow less because undisturbed soil does not need to recover.

This process saves time, as there is less digging and watering, but gives bigger harvests. It is also ecologically beneficial as we create an ecologically balanced environment, use fewer chemicals and keep carbon in the soil.

Some rather large squash in Polesden's no dig beds
Rather large squash in Polesden's no dig beds
Some rather large squash in Polesden's no dig beds

Come and take a look at our no dig beds next time you visit Polesden.

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