How to Fill a Raised Garden Bed with the "No Dig" Method

by formerchef on March 26, 2009

The “No Dig” method for gardening is supposed to use less water, take less effort (no digging, no rotatilling) and raise superior vegetables.
Ok, sign me up.
I had two references. One, a story I’d read in the LA times last summer (http://www.latimes.com/features/home/la-hm-nodig12-2008jun12,0,55177.story) and the other, the website, http://www.no-dig-vegetablegarden.com/
I started saving newspapers about a month ago.
On Saturday David went to Stephen’s Hay and Grain in Glendale and bought 2 bales of Alfalfa and 2 bales of Hay. It’s times like this I’m very happy we have a pick-up truck.

On Sunday morning my mother and I went to Armstrong. We weren’t certain how much compost or fertilizer we’d need so we bought 6 bags of Organic Compost and 6 bags of Chicken Manure/Fertilizer and we figured we’d see how far we get.
We began by leveling out the two rectangular beds, both the walls and the dirt, as best we could. Then, we laid down a thick layer of wet newspapers.

After the newspapers, came a 4″ thick layer of Alfalfa topped with a 1″ think layer of chicken manure. We wet this down.

Next came 8″ of hay, which got topped with another 1″ of manure.

On top of the hay went 4″ of Compost. We wet down every layer.
For the two 4′x5′ beds, we used 1/2 bale of alfalfa, a full bale of hay, and all the bags of compost and fertilizer. We estimate we will need to buy 1 more bale of hay and 9 bags each of the compost and fertilizer to complete the larger raised bed.
I bought a few starter plants just because I could not resist and the instructions said you could plant right away. Below, 4 tomato plants, 1 basil, 2 arugula, and 2 different eggplants.
Those monsters! The next day I discovered that some of our local little creatures (raccoons, skunks and possums) had been digging in and under the new beds. Fortunately, they didn’t mess with the plants.

On top of the compost we put the remaining hay for mulch. Next weekend we will fill the other, larger bed and then I get to fill it with as many plants as will fit!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah March 7, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Clicked this link from PW’s site. Looks like a great idea! We have red clay that is not conducive to gardening. I crave fresh veggies so I might just have to try this page. I’m going to bookmark it!

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2 Jacqueline Church June 4, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Did the critters keep coming back? Were they digging to get at the alfalfa? The beds look beautiful. I’m jealous!

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3 formerchef June 4, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Oh yes, though I think I may have won the most recent battle. See today’s post for details; http://www.formerchef.com/2010/06/04/garden-update-have-i-won-the-battle/

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