Raised beds and “no-dig” vegetable gardens are increasingly advocated as one of the best ways to produce an organic vegetable garden in a small space. Container gardening is also another method handy to pursue, especially for urban dwellers who don’t want to commit to an established garden space. When pursuing either a raised bed or “no-dig” garden, some essentials should be considered with placement and management to make a no dig garden truly sustainable, adaptable and have as little impact on the environment as possible. Remember, gardening in and of itself is not necessarily a “sustainable” activity, it’s the way in which you do it which can be a meaningful, environmentally conscious activity. Using local materials, appropriate plants for your environment and needs, minimal water use, and pesticide and synthetic chemical free fertilizers are a few of the main factors to consider when growing a garden.
Make a Vegetable Garden with Limited Space
Collecting the materials for construction would be first. It would be great to build the frames of the beds with recycled wood material found around the home. If there is none available there may be local business giving away scrap wood from deliveries. A lot of the time, nurseries and garden centres will have scrap that they give out for free. Family and friends could also be asked if having no luck finding any wood. This helps reduce the amount of wood being harvested and used, reducing deforestation.
Building the frames of the beds can be a personal preference. The beds can be long and vertical or large and square. It’s really dependent upon the space available.
However, the best placement for the beds would be somewhere on the lawn or existing soil. You can place the beds on concrete if space is limited however this takes more materials as the bottoms will needs to be filled with wood chips or thick layers of newspaper or natural carpet.
This is really unnecessary if the raised beds are placed on the lawn, especially when using layers in your beds as it will deter any weed growth during the decomposition process. Keeping your garden in contact with the native soil helps create a rich base and allows the garden to become home for worms as they work their way up from beneath the ground.
Filling the raised beds with different organic materials will be next. There is no need to till the lawn to get rid of the grass as it will decompose overtime and become a part of the garden. This process is similar to making a compost heap. It will begin with some natural brown materials such as hay or straw about 4 inches thick. You can also use what is available around the yard, brown leaves, small branches or twigs.
Some green material can be placed next. The best greens to use in your vegetable garden would be fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen, however grass clippings will work as well. Just a thin layer will do as the organic fertilizer would be next.
Compost that has been previously made with manure and the native soil would be optimal. If homemade manure compost is not available, commercial fertilizer can be used. However this may be a good time to start a compost to save on cost and transport of bringing in soil and manure from another source. Another 8 inches of loose straw or dead leaves, more fruit and vegetable scraps, then manure or commercial fertilizer and to top it off 4 inches of organic top soil. Although homemade manure compost for the top layer would be more sustainable to use if planning to maintain the garden throughout the years to come.
After the garden beds are filled, water them thoroughly but do not soak. The soil should always remain damp. The garden will now be ready to sow seeds directly or transplant seedlings from indoors.
Raised beds may be the right option when considering how to make a vegetable garden with limited space available. This no dig method will produce hardy and healthy yield if plants are managed correctly. Be sure to know what type of care the food plants will need to help them grow to their full potential. After the years harvest it will only take adding a layer of homemade compost or manure and topsoil to start the growing process again. Composting for a backyard raised bed garden is the more sustainable option and will help the the native soil become nutrient rich fuel for the veggies. -KATIE FLYNN