Why we are striving towards a 'No Dig' approach
Soil erosion and the loss of fertile land is increasing globally. Earth’s fragile soil anchors all life on Earth and we simply won't be able to survive without it. At pale green dot we strongly believe in the importance of soil sustainability. We make sure our farming practices, and those at our partner farms, are geared towards improving and maintaining soil fertility. Our Glasshouses in Sussex are striving for a no dig approach, which is a great way to improve soil’s long term health.
'No dig' growing is not a new method. It was made popular by Geoff Hamilton the presenter of Gardeners World in the 80’s and 90’s. It lost some of its allure in recent times but is now thankfully being popularised again. This is in part because of an increase in consumers wanting improved sustainability in the products they buy. In addition to this, there is also much greater awareness of how finite land and fertile soil is and people are keen to learn how to improve crop harvests with a minimal negative impact as possible.
With no dig, you are feeding and working with the soil, not the plant. Feeding the plants with fertilisers can be harmful to soil, which can lead to further challenges such as the soil being unsuitable for growing. No dig gardening doesn't mean you have to totally stop digging your soil, you just interfer with it much less, letting the soils natural ecosystem do the work. It doesn't have to be an immidate change, you can, like us, be working towards it.
How does no dig work? Why is this a sustainable method?
How it works. Digging achieves only a temporary aeration to the soil. When you dig up to plant new crops this disturbs the soil structureMeaning, all the organisms and microbes in the soil are damaged or killed by your cultivation. Whereas, if you can disturb them as little as possible, it allows the soil structure to build, improving aeration and drainage for your crops.Whilst also the soil’s moisture and improving the nutrients being able to get to your crop. No dig, can also reduce the man hours required for weeding, when a bed is not turned over the weed seeds deep in the soil, aren't exposed to light, stopping them from being able to grow. You will get a few here and there from compost, but nowhere near the same amount as when you dig.
The no dig policy is a brilliant sustainable farming method particularly because of how great it is at reducing the amount of soil erosion. The better soil structure, the less that soil runoff occurs. Additionally, it minimises the effects of droughts and floods on land, as it can hold and retain more moisture.
No dig, reduces the man hours required for weeding, when a bed is not turned over the weed seeds deep in the soil, exposed to light, stopping them from being able to grow. You will get a few here and there from compost, but nowhere near the same about as when you dig.