Five simple steps to a no dig flower bed

Raised beds demonstrating the no-dig method.

‘To dig or not to dig’ seems to be the question on every gardener’s lips.  In my experience, a ‘no dig’ flower bed is well worth considering – read on.

It has taken me a long time to curtail the need for weeding cut flower beds. Now I ‘live’ or’ garden’ by the motto that if the weed isn’t hurting, then don’t bother wasting your time removing it. There are plenty of other worthwhile tasks to spend my time on, on the Flower Farm. However, I also understand that those growing cut flowers in their garden will want an aesthetically pleasing cut flower patch rather than one riddled with weeds.  

“My no dig method allows you to enjoy productive and easy growing.  
You don’t have to spend your gardening time on endless weeding and dealing with slugs.  
Instead, being outdoors can be a real pleasure!”  
Charles Dowding 

After spending years digging over his land, Charles Dowding developed the no dig method, which is being used by hundreds and thousands of gardeners worldwide today. 

A no dig flower bed is the perfect solution to maintain an aesthetically pleasing cut flower patch. 

We have dug-over and no dig flower beds here at Field Gate Flowers. However, I must confess my back and knees prefer the no dig method. Plus, it is a terrific way to recycle cardboard boxes from our many deliveries of seeds and bulbs.  

Both methods have pros and cons, but I always recommend the no dig way to beginners of Cut Flower patches. There are four reasons why it’s a firm favourite for Cut Flower beginners.  

  • It is excellent and easy to do on small beds. You can create a 3x1m no dig flower bed in less than a day.
  • You don’t need fancy skills to create a no dig patch, and it’s quick. You will have more time to learn about cut flowers!
  • A vast amount of timesaving means more time for beginners to enjoy and learn from the growing process rather than weeding/struggling.
  • It does not require the complication of applying fertiliser or remembering countless other plant care rules 

The no dig method works best on beds that have not been trodden down, are easily accessible, and are a controlled size and space. These beds can be raised or flat. When the no dig method is applied, weeds can be controlled by hand or shallow hoeing. Debris can easily be gathered rather than dug in. You will also see a slug decline due to fewer hospitability habitats (clogs). Furthermore, the no dig method provides rich soil and causes little disruption to soil life, which helps feed your plant roots.  

Before you begin your no dig flower bed, you will need ;

  • Plenty of organic matter  
  • Light-excluding material to cover the size of your patch – cardboard is our favourite.

The principle of the no dig method is to exclude light so weeds can’t grow and to produce rich soil (using organic matter) where you can grow seeds, bulbs, and plants.  

  1. Clear the patch/bed, cut down tall weed foliage (add to the compost heap), and clear any litter and debris from the area.
  1. Lay your cardboard down on the patch so it is covered, and make sure the edges of the cardboard overlap. You don’t want any area of the soil to get any light.
  1. Put a significant deep layer of organic matter down. We use homemade compost at Field Gate Flowers mixed with fully rotted manure and leaf mulch. You are looking for a coating 8-12 cm deep.
  1. The next step is to tread over the patch firmly. Over time it will rot down and create the most fantastic soil texture ready for you to grow your cut flowers. It will also provide a soil texture that makes weeding an easy task. 
  1. Now all you have to do is plant away until your heart’s content. Over time the weeds will die back, and the soil organisms will do their thing.  

Your cut flower patch will soon be blooming into life! 

If you want to be inspired by the journeys of other Cut Flower enthusiasts, then pick up a copy of Seed to Vase

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