Creating no dig gardens on top of the soil gives you many immediate advantages over the usual garden.
It is quick and easy
It will improve the soil underneath the bed
It is weed free and organic
While my site has concentrated on the vegetable garden, the same garden building techniques can be used for flower beds, herbs and fruit trees.
Herbs can be planted straight into the no dig garden bed. Because of their uses, the herb garden should be situated in a sunny spot very near your kitchen. Then you can simply step out the door and make an ordinary meal into a culinary delight! If there isn't an obvious space handy, herbs will grow very well in containers.
However, if you do have the space, there is a wonderful project called the 'Herb Spiral' you can build. It's extremely space efficient and caters for the various microclimates that herbs like.
It involves building a vertical spiral, usually from rocks, about 6 ft across and 2-3 feet high. The top is quite dry and hot, the bottom is moist and there is a sunny side and a shady side. A garden of this size will need about 1.5 cubic metres of soil or compost materials.
The top is good for Mediterranearn type herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage. The mid sections suit chives, shallots, Italian parsley, tarragon, rocket and coriander. The lower, cooler section suits borage, peppermint, pennywort and lemon balm. These are just suggestions as there are many plants that will grow in your spiral.
Useful note: For those in the Northern hemisphere, the hottest side of your spiral will be facing south. For those in the Southern hemisphere, the hottest side of your spiral will be facing north.
Flowers and Shrubs
Every garden has some sort of ornamental flowers or shrubs. It's fundamental to our concept of a garden! The no dig gardening method will allow then to thrive no matter where you are.
There isn't the space to go into specifics here, but some simple considerations before you get started... Try to plant species that are native to your area. There are many reasons for this but the best one is that those plants will do best where you live! Don't get stuck in a high maintenance routine for something that simply isn't suited to your area. Plant species that will attract local fauna. Help struggling native animals, birds, frogs and insects by building suitable habitat for them. You will be rewarded many times over when they discover where you live! Plan what you want from your garden. A colour scheme? Flowering year round? What will really thrill and inspire you? That is what the garden is for. It feeds your spirit while you make your way in the world.
To use the no dig garden method with fruit trees, you have to be patient. The garden will have to be 2-3 generations on before the benefits have gone deep enough for the fruit tree to be planted. However, once the hard yards are done (mostly by local worms!), you should be thinking about planting your own fruit trees.
Apples are the most popular fruit on the planet. Do you recall how the fruit tasted when you were a kid? Nothing like the stuff you get today. The disturbing thing is that pesticides can be taken into the fruit and stay there long after harvest. Then they are waxed and stored in chemical dependant environments. Seriously consider growing your own fruit.
Berry canes, apples, cherries, lemons, limes, plums, pears, oranges, there's no end to the possibilities. Explore what will grow in your neighbourhood and plant those trees! It's not too hard and a single tree (apple) can net up to 500 apples in a growing season.
Growing items of your own food is incredibly rewarding. Even decorating your house with cut flowers that you have grown yourself is vastly more satisfying than just buying a bunch. Gardening is a creative and spiritually nourishing pastime. Ponder your space. Imagine the limitless variety available to you. Then go crazy with inspiration!
Judy Williams (http://www.no-dig-vegetablegarden.com) aspires to become a fulltime earth mother goddess. This site acts as a primer for all vegetable gardening aspects covering topics like how to build a garden, nurture seedlings, container gardening and composting.