Building a Garden Bed, the No-Till way

Way down at the end of this path is a messy unused piece of garden - well, not anymore.

When we first started our adventure in Agritourism, we wanted to be good caretakers. We'd read that tilling and plowing break up the subsoil and release carbon into the air that otherwise would be of benefit to plants. Folks are trying a new method and this will be the second year we've used the no-till way to build our garden beds..

We needed to get a new garlic bed built before the end of September so the earth could mellow before planting. I plan on planting a lot of garlic and so needed a long bed about three feet wide but fifteen to twenty feet long. The long path to the fire pit is five feet wide. We decided people can have two feet to walk on but the other three feet is going to be winter garlic winding up the path.

Starting to place the cardboard on the walking side of the path.

We had laid down cardboard and wood chips last year. I raked all the wood chips off to the side. The grasses were trying to encroach on the pathway already. I laid down another layer of cardboard that was two feet wide and covered it with the wood chips I had raked up earlier.

All the wood chips were raked to the side so that the cardboard would lay flat.

Then we turned our attention to the garlic bed side. This area had been covered with cardboard for a year and that had decomposed and so was soft and pliable unpacked ground. Roger took a garden fork and dug it down about six to eight inches and leaned back. This lifted the soil about two inches and that's all we did. He'd move another couple of inches back and dig and lift again until he'd forked over the entire garden that I wanted.

This loosened the soil, which allowed air to get in and it will also allow for better water absorption. Roger took the time to pull out the grass clumps.

Roger is pulling out the encroaching grasses.

Then, we covered the garlic bed with about six inches of grass clippings. We're not done covering it yet, it's a work in progress. The grass clippings will break down over the winter and nourish the garlic that we'll plant.

We are covering it with grass mulch about four to six inches deep.

I'll be planting the garlic in mid- October so be looking for a post on how we do it!

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