The No Dig, No Till Garden

Amethyst Horn at Bealtaine CottageBealtaine Cottage is a permaculture smallholding, as followers of this blog know.

In permaculture we mulch, mulch and carry on mulching, building up the soil as we go.Bealtaine Cottage potager bed

Over the past two years I have been creating Potager gardens near the back of the cottage, using stone found on the land to create raised beds.

Bealtaine Cottage making the Potager beds June 2012 005Into these beds I have packed raw wool, compost, ash, leaf mould and shredding…lots and lots, layer upon layer, of shredding.

Plants are planted into bottomless pots onto the top of all this, so their roots can spread down deep into the goodness!

Bealtaine Cottage Potager bedThis year has seen the extending of these beds to cover yet more of the gravel.

The most useful tool in the permaculture gardens is the shredder!

Bealtaine Cottage potager beds and BuddhaI pile the shredding on the soil, wherever there are plants growing, spreading it around the base and everywhere in-between.

Beaten earth floor in ploytunnel at Bealtaine CottageNot only does this suppress the weeds, but it feeds the soil and therefore the plants.

You can see this practice at work here in the tunnel.

April 2013 Permaculture gardens at Bealtaine CottageAfter a few weeks, the shredding take on the dark look of soil, making it look like the soil has been just tilled…it has not!

permaculture gardens of Bealtaine Cottage, No digCaring for 3 acres, I can assure you that I do not dig and I have no one who helps!

Does it work? …see for yourself.

No sore back and an abundance of food!

Bealtaine Cottage potager garden

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 110 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

Over 600 blogs from Bealtaine Cottage in the archives here.

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  1. Can you tell me when you talk about the ash is that ashes from the fire, we use a mixture of coal and briquettes would the ashes from the fire be something to add to the layers, I added a layer of straw yesterday and this eve , I read that this may not have been a good idea; little confused , it also seems that well rotted manure is something invaluable in the no dig garden , so this will be something I will be trying to source this weekend along with the rhubarb crowns and some plants that I have seen on your website , looking for the name of that lovely pink flowering tree that you have featured in one of the videos I cant seem to catch the name and the subtitles on the utube video seem to miss it also sounded like rise or similar , hope I am not pestering you too much with all my questions , just starting this project and a little confused but getting things done bit by bit. Kind regards kathy.

    • I scatter ashes from wood fires around the trees over a wide area. I add used straw from the henhouse to beds and compost heaps, depending on the time of year and growing season. Fresh straw can be put around such things as Rhubarb and strawberries as well as a weed suppressant around Blackcurrants and other fruit bushes. The pink flowering bushes in early and mid spring is Ribes, much loved by the bees and the fruit by the birds.
      Blessings XXX

      • Blessings to you also Colette and thank you so much for the name of the the flowering bushes this is my no. one item i wll be searching for this next few days , If you are ever selling plants or seeds please let me know , as I would prefer to buy from you than search the nurseries and I could get them picked up by either myself or my husband John we will be buying plants and seeds in the next few weeks so if you are selling any please dont hesitate in letting us know , as the ground is similar to what Bealtaine was in the beginning of your gardens your seeds and plants may be well suited, Kind regards Kathy, looking forward to buying your book also when you have it published, many blessings and thanks again for the name of the Ribes. xxx

  2. Hello Colette…may I ask, why do you use bottomless pots instead of taking the plant out of the pot? Also, I have some of your valerian seed…when is a good time of year to sow it?…many thanks for your time

    • I use them directly onto soil for more depth for annual vegetable roots. Scatter the seed directly onto limestone gravel for the best results…anytime, especially now.
      Blessings XXX

  3. Here in the US shredders are not that common. Would you mind explaining more about what a shredder is and does, including what you would not put in a shredder (i.e., what plants would not be good to shred). Also, do you use the shredded material immediately? Or do you age it before putting it on your plants? I currently have a compost pile where I put everything, but I’m thinking that a shredder might make things a bit easier so I don’t have to lug compost around. 🙂 Thank you!!

    • I think that the shredder that Ms. Colette is referring to is called a “chipper” in the U.S. (The machine that makes mulch from small trees, vines, plants, etc.)

    • I think that the shredder is what we in the US would call a wood chipper — but Collette’s is electric and I’ve never seen one in the US that is not gasoline-powered. I am very curious about the shredder as well.

      • The Shredder is very European in that it caters for gardens that are relatively small. It’s a great option for me as being electric and living in sight of Wind Turbines, I feel like it’s not reliant on imported oil, or contributing to air pollution.

  4. Hello Colette
    I read Ruth Stouts book and have been working my yard and garden with mulch that way since. Even when I lived in a city I did the gardens like that. Now that I have arthritic problems its even a better way to garden. I can see with a small amount of help I can garden the rest of my life.
    Blessings to you

  5. Hi, Love the posts and enjoy waiting for the next ones. The workshop sounds amazing as I have an acre that is currently being planted. An opportunity to learn from you and nature would be inspiring. My own goal is to see a permaculture system work and the abundance it brings and the security of self provision while being positive to nature. Thanks for everything 🙂 All the best Regards Chris

  6. Excellent post. I agree, no need for digging. ‘Gardening’ should never been too hard to do. Like you I use shredding to layer my raised beds and fill the composter with. It works a treat every time! One day I’d love to come over and visit your cottage.

  7. Oh what a good idea Colette! I wish I could attend! Maybe you could have someone video parts of it for all of us “across the pond.” Would love to be there. Patti

Your comments are welcome!