Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Creating a no-dig garden bed

It's almost child's play...

The idea is to smother the weeds and grass under the newspaper, and to keep the newspaper moist under the mulch to encourage earth worms.

Lay newspaper.

Lay out watering pipes (in this case, some of the pipes had to go under a footpath). You want the pipes on top of the newspaper and under the mulch.

Water well.

Top with mulch and compost.

Ready to be planted!


  1. During the winter I saw some gardeners at the university putting down recycled cardboard boxes in between shrubs and then covering them with mulch. I thought this was a very good idea.

    Would newspaper be all right for vegetables? Are the ink dyes safe? The roots will certainly penetrate the newspapers.

  2. Hi jmb,

    I have looked into the question of the safety of newspaper ink. I have heard from organic gardeners around here that the black ink is ok. I have since read up on the issue, and have learnt that in the past (go back a couple of decades), newspaper ink indeed contained toxic substances, particularly heavy metals. Modern newspaper ink (including coloured ink) is based on soy, therefore biodegradable and safe.

  3. Here is a link with more information on the issue of ink safety:

  4. I built a very productive no dig garden bed at our last house. It was pretty shady, but I managed to find nice things to grow in it. I was more interested in building it than in planning what to grow.

  5. I am jealous. That looked like fun. I can't wait to start our new garden. By the way, thanks for stopping by my blog. And, your view (previous post) is fantastic!

  6. one teeny little prob .... all that energy that goes into making paper.

    Now if it were all nuclear there wouldn't be a problem but it isn't.

  7. baht at - this is paper that would have otherwise ended in landfill, it obviously wasn't produced nor purchased for the purpose of setting up my garden beds.

  8. Errrr .... explain to me what's so dangerously ungreen about digging that I should be doing this?

  9. baht at - where did I say that it was "dangerously ungreen" to dig? If you prefer to break your back digging - go ahead. However, there are definitely some benefits to using mulch farming methods rather than digging or ploughing.

    Let me quote from Peter Andrew's fantastic book "Back from the brink": "The topsoil is the environment's recycling factory, alive with bacteria breaking down and recycling the residue of the previous crop or whatever other organic material is there. To plough up the soil is like putting a bulldozer through your factory. If instead you spread mulch on the soil, you're both protecting the factory and supplying it with more raw materials."

  10. Hi there,

    No dig gardens are great. Quick and easy and they produce results. I like the way you did yours. My wife Tanya just helped put one together in Noosa and bloged about it at.
    You can go and check it out if you like.
    Keep up the good work