New No Dig Method

I thought this was a great idea and it’s new to me. Worth a look.


  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,377 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I did this last year without the fire. I would be afraid to burn leaves like that - especially right by my wooden fence! I grew potatoes and okra and few volunteer tomatoes in the leaves last year. They grew really well.

    I still have potatoes in the ground that my husband blows leaves over almost every day. He wants to get them out of the yard, and I want them to cover my potato plants since we're getting our first freeze tonight. Once I dig up the potatoes this weekend my husband is going to mulch up the leaves with the lawn mower like we did last year.

    I've told neighbors they can bring me their leaves too, but I'd probably have to go collect them if I want them.

    I can't wait for next spring to try again!

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,454 admin

    This is a very good idea. I always use the leaves to cover my empty high vegetable beds in autumn and I never remove them in spring. In spring I cover them with some ripe compost and the potatoes go straight into the rotten leaves.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    I can see this working in some areas but not mine. I have very alkaline soil already so adding wood ashes is just going to increase the alkalinity. It would be good for those who have acidic soils.

    I also have very rocky ground; bedrock at the surface in some spots. No top soil to speak of. So this wouldn't really give me enough depth to plant. And our property is on a slope.

    Our garden is in a spot that got a lot of soil from a local ranch dumped on it to make it level. Then we built raised beds. The raised beds speed up the thawing process in the spring.

    You also need a lot of leaves to do this project. I live where it is primarily coniferous forests and the deciduous trees we do have don't have the bigger leaves like maple or oak. So I am barely able to get enough leaves to cover my garlic or plants that aren't quite so hardy.

    Then you have to think about the weather. I'm not sure that with our winter freeze that the leaves would have enough time to compost down for spring planting.

    But if anyone tries this method, I would be interested to hear how it goes.

  • Megan Venturella
    Megan Venturella Posts: 678 ✭✭✭✭

    Yes, I’ve already set up my garden for the most part so I probably won’t try this myself, but I’m fascinated by how many ways there are to start a garden and how each has its place. I have acidic soils and I think it would work in my area, but I’m afraid of fire. I like to do things the safe SLOW way. But learning about goats and the high mineral content of tree leaves that they need makes me think this is also a great way to add minerals to depleted soil. I’ve never really composted leaves because animal bedding is convenient, plentiful, and available year-round for me.

    My sister’s house is completely surrounded by trees with a little clearing for her garden and this would be a great method for her I bet- if she can do it without burning her house down too.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,483 admin

    @Megan Venturella thanks for sharing this video. It is interesting how people go about their food resilience practices. For some reason this appealed to me. I use the autumn leaves on my compost or garden beds. When I clean out our fireplace, I collect the biochar to add to garden beds. This method kind of combines both & if you have the right conditions (soil type, slope etc) then a handy way of setting up a new bed. I think I would put a few more sticks in the mix to encourage more biochar.

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Most of our property has trees. There is an area here and there where there are not as many, but leaves are everywhere, except where I plan to have my garden. I know I am going to need to help the soil because it's red clay. So I decided to take the leaves off our 1/4 mile driveway and place them over the area that will be the garden in the spring. I have that contraption for starting the fire, it was my Christmas present from my husband last year.

    The only thing is that there are some plants in the garden that we just put in the ground because we had to move them or lose them, so that will be tricky to make sure they don't burn. But it's exciting to see that what I have learned in my studying, even though I didn't remember the specifics as to why they are so beneficial, I knew we needed to put the leaves in the garden to help with next year. And make sure the delivery drivers stay on our driveway and do not mess up the swales that we created to help channel the rainwater.

    Thanks for sharing, @Megan Venturella. I look forward to checking out some more of his videos.😊

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2022

    Very interesting, but not a technique I could use in its entirety. At that time of year, we are still usually in a burn ban. Would love to be able to burn my weed seeds (especially the thistle). We have to wait to the early spring for burning but even then, I don't really like to because of disturbing the soil biome. Of course, the deep mulch would be great, but we just don't have all that many leaves on our property. I did have my neighbor leave me several bales of hay from our own property so no introduced weed seed, and plan to use it to mulch the majority of the garden for the winter.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,116 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I wonder if burning the leaves in a barrel or some type of containment would work for you. Then spread the ashes on the ground or in your raised beds where you want the added minerals. That is most likely how I will be doing it. We also have very acidic soils and for some things have to add lime to sweeten the soil some. But in my blueberry beds they love acid so it should be great there.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @torey I'm surprised you have both alkaline soil and predominantly coniferous forests. I associate conifers with acidity.

    Pine needles are a great source of acid. I pile them under my blueberry plants.

    The large pine in the yard has acidified the soil around it to the point grass just doesn't want to grow there.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    @VermontCathy Its because we have relatively little topsoil. Right under the top layer of duff, you are down to mineral soil and that's where the alkalinity is. As I mentioned, bedrock right at the surface in places.

    The Fraser River (running through the center of the province) and a couple of the other bigger rivers, have good farm land on many of the benches where the soil is more balanced but still tends towards alkalinity.

    To the east of me, where there are bigger lakes in the mountain trenches, more soil has built up and it is acidic enough to support lots of mosses, ferns and the Ericaceae family.

    I use needles whenever possible to top dress my blueberries. My area is predominately Douglas fir with a bit of lodgepole pine and some spruce.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2022

    @torey That makes sense. Poor topsoil with alkaline rock underneath would give high pH soil.

    I'm a little surprised that conifer trees, or any trees, grow well under those conditions. I would have expected soil that poor not to be forested at all, supporting only small shrubs, lichens, and grasses.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    @VermontCathy Its surprising where conifers will grow. I have several in my back yard that are growing out of large rock outcroppings. If there is any sort of drainage pattern, you will find aspen, cottonwood, birch and willow. They seem to be able to survive in almost anything as long as they have access to lots of water.

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,454 admin

    Yes, it is really surprising where conifers grow. We live in Limestone Alps and they are overgrown predominantly with conifers. Some grow on bare rocks.