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Digital Subscriptions > Kitchen Garden Magazine > December 2018 > DITCH THE SPADE


At the end of the season we’re advised to ‘dig over ground’ but proponents of no-dig gardening reckon it’s time to dump the spade and opt for a less invasive approach. Benedict Vanheems has joined them


The National Trust garden at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire has some no-dig beds. Here they are heaped up with organic matter and bark chipping pathways between them
Low wooden sides can help define the growing area but are not essential (see main picture)

Digging is synonymous with vegetable growing. It’s the belt-and-braces start to everything we do – after all, how else would you incorporate the annual dump of compost or create those coveted crumbly seedbeds?

But what if we’ve got it all wrong? What if you could achieve stunning results without the sweaty, back-breaking, harrumph-inducing effort? To many traditionalists it sounds implausible, corner-cutting, even lazy. And yet more and more of us are ditching the spade only to discover the incredible results that can be enjoyed without ever breaking ground again. We’ve been fed lies my friends – digging is no more central to kitchen gardening than artificial fertilisers or chemical pesticides are.

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About Kitchen Garden Magazine

So another year is over on the veg plot – I hope you’ve had a successful and rewarding one. As ever it brought its challenges – the late spring and hot summer certainly made things interesting. My polytunnel crops were the best ever (although one arm is now longer than the other from carrying watering cans) and many of you have told me you’ve had some wonderful soft and tree fruit. That, however, is in the past and we need to prepare for the fun and challenges ahead. With that in mind we have some great features for you this month. Fruit expert David Patch offers his advice on planning a fruit garden, while Ben Vanheems encourages you to leave the spade in the shed and to join the ranks of converts to no-dig gardening. As usual we have features on growing a diverse range of crops and get out and about to meet readers from the North East to the South West. I hope you enjoy seeing the pictures of their wonderful plots as much as I did.