Last year I met a wonderful lady (via a library book and video) by the name of Ruth Stout, who introduced me to the “no-dig” method of organic gardening. Simply put, instead of tilling, double-digging, or doing any of the other “traditional” methods of bed-preparation, the bed is assembled by adding layers and layers of organic material on top of the ground surface. Then nature is left alone to do what it does best: bring in a host of bugs, worms, fungus (and probably a lot more good stuff that I don’t even know about) to start the decaying process, till the soil, and gradually create THE most fertile, perfectly aerated bed you’ve ever seen!
My goal is to create one of these beds per day, until I’ve got enough beds ready for spring planting.
Here is the process: First I kill the nice, green, pasture grass that is abundantly growing out where I want my garden (after all, this used to be an emu farm) by laying down black plastic over the top of the grass. After about 1-2 weeks, when the grass has died back, I pull back the black plastic and add a thick layer of compost (a mixture of pasture grass, dirt, fresh and decaying leaves, leaf mold, and lots of bugs and worms). It takes about 8 – 10 bucketloads to complete a 4 x 12 foot bed. Finally, I place the black plastic back on to let the compost finish “cooking”. In another month or two, when it’s safe to begin planting out seedlings, I should have a very nice, organically fertilized, tilled bed!