I’ve decided that I’m not as much of a purist as I thought I was…
As I started the year, I was certain that the only method I was going to employ to create my vegetable beds was the “no-dig”/Ruth Stout/”Lasagna” bed method. However, as it grows closer to planting time, I’ve settled on a compromise: I am going to combine the techniques of the “no-dig” method, with the “double-dig” method, and implement what I call the “single-dig raised bed” technique in this year’s garden.
Come to think of it, it really is a reflection of how I function in the rest of my life – with ecclecticism. I don’t usually find one single genre/style/pattern of anything that I strictly follow: I live in the country, and subscribe to “Coastal Living” magazine; I homeschool, and use curriculum from the Amish country as well as Singapore…why should my garden be any different? By fusing together what I think is the best of what’s out there, I hope to come up with an end product that is successful and uniquely “me”!
Because I began with the lasagna or no-dig method (by throwing down layers of grass, dead leaves, and other green waste and letting it cook under the heat of black plastic) in the winter, my top soil is now crumbly, deep brown, earthy-smelling, and teeming with worms and other essential mycorrhizae. As with the double-dig method, instead of using a mechanical tiller (which would chop up all of the worms and break the webbing of the mycorrhizae) I am using my shovel to overturn the topsoil. Then, using my rake, I pull it away from the sides of the bed and on top of the middle portion of the bed, creating a rectangular bed that is raised to the depth of about a foot and ready to plant in.
It is a bit more work than I planned on doing (Ruth Stout would be frowning and shaking her head at me right now, I’m sure) but I hope that I will only have to do this initial work once. Once the garden gets going (if I can keep the gophers from tunneling up into it –I was thinking about laying down some chicken wire first, but that would just be too over-the-top, and dogs from digging in it -there’s just something so inviting about freshly raked dirt that makes them want to dig a nice hole to lie in) it should sustain itself with minimal upkeep, as I implement a system of crop rotation and companion gardening all the year long. By combining these two techniques, I hope to reap, and possibly increase, the benefits of both gardening worlds!