I’ve always been doubtful of no-dig systems. I’ve got a number of reasons for this. Firstly I tend to stick to what I know works and traditional double digging mixing in organic matter to add humus certainly does improve the soil, deepening and aerating it.
On the other hand, I do some growing in raised beds and the the first rule, once they’re established, is not to walk on or dig over raised beds. They do get some minimal cultivation when harvesting, especially root crops, but that’s it.
My trials of no-dig methods on heavy clay convinced me that it wasn’t effective but the soil here is lighter, almost sandy. If it wasn’t for all the blasted rocks it would potentially be very good soil once the pH is raised (it’s very acid) and humus increased.
Now we’ve been double digging and adding manure to the new vegetable area but with starting late and the weather turning wet and wetter, progress has really slowed down. What could be best is to run half as no-dig. I’ve certainly got a lot of manure and compost so the worst that can happen is I dig it over next year.
In the Polytunnel
Because this is the first year and January was spent in getting the basics done, the tunnel is only now starting. Still, I’m learning a lot as I go with it. If starting again I’d do some things differently but happily nothing too major.
I sowed some broadbeans into the right hand border at the back. I’d got some beans, The Sutton, sowed in pots in the greenhouse which I’d thought to plant in the tunnel but thinking about it, they’re a dwarf which makes them quite suitable for the windy outdoors. So the Sutton beans will go into a raised bed outside.
I decided to use a near standard spacing, 20 cm apart each way in double rows with 45 cm between the double row (normally 60 cm) which brings them 15 cm in from the sides. I used a 6 ft (180 cm) length. The rest are going into pots in the greenhouse. I’ll use them to fill any gaps in the tunnel and plant the rest out in a raised bed.
I also sowed a couple of rows of radishes. Just French Breakfast which I’ve yet to find better. I’ve got some French radishes which I think are actually French Breakfast under a different name – not English Breakfast.
It was pouring with rain whilst I was in the tunnel, reminded me of camping when the rain is pattering on the canvas. I’ve even got the fold-up camping chair but not a sleeping bag in there.. yet!
In the Potting Shed
In the potting shed I sowed a load of spring onions – White Lisbon and Guardsman. Normally I would sow directly in rows but I’m trying a method suggested to me where you sow a pinch of seeds into a module and then plant out the modules. They are called bunching onions, so it should work.
Dry seed compost can be very difficult to get wet. Rather than just watering from the top, sit the seed tray into water and leave it for a while to soak up water and get thoroughly wet through prior to sowing.