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Posted by sonny 05/04/2009 @ 06:13

Tags : gardening, home and garden, leisure

News headlines
Speaking of the Garden - Baltimore Sun
And every time son Joseph or daughter Jessie passed another milestone - driver's license, college, wedding or a move to a new military duty station - she has planted another garden. Now she will be writing about those gardens - and yours - here on...
Guerrilla gardening: Renters, eco-activists make the most of ... -
In season, she'll pick fruit or greens, then head to her Sumner, Wash., home to a garden filled with enough produce for her to sell from her bicycle trailer on weekends. What's unusual about Miller is that none of the spaces where she gardens are hers....
Gardening Q & A: Flowering shrub can handle some shade - Chicago Tribune
By Denise Corkery | Special to the Tribune qduring a visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden I saw a flowering shrub called dwarf fothergilla. Will it grow in my shade garden? adwarf fothergilla (foth-er-GIL-ah, Fothergilla gardenii) flowers best in full...
Master Gardener knows the dirt - Sioux City Journal
Will is a product of the Woodbury County Extension Office's Master Gardener program and since 2005, has donated more than 1000 hours of her time. Will's green thumb was cultivated at her maternal grandfather's farm in Independence, Iowa....
Keeping deer out of your garden -
I cannot begin to tell you how many fellow gardeners have asked me how to keep deer out of their gardens. There are actually a variety of ways to discourage deer from using your garden as a buffet. The effectiveness of your choice of deterrents...
Conspiracy theories sprout in DC - Baltimore Sun
I write this column and a gardening blog called Garden Variety. It was in that capacity that I was invited to the White House last week to cover the harvest of the spring crop - snap peas and lettuces - and the picnic Mrs. Obama and the children...
Gardens of note Maine Music Society's 15th annual Garden & Home ... -
The Maine Music Society's 15th annual Garden & Home Tour will take place from 10 am to 4 pm Saturday, July 11, rain or shine. This year's fundraising tour consists of seven locations, including seven gardens and one home interior. 1....
Recycling in the Garden -
At the risk of sounding more like a gardening editor than a recycler I've just got to take a moment to brag on my garden. Admittedly it is not as mature as the gardens of some of my neighbors who somehow managed to get their planting done earlier in...
Obama calls Americans to community gardening - Mother Nature Network
The specific information on why building a community garden is there, but the specific information on how to build one is minimal on the site. The website leads those interested to a “getting started” page that similar for many of their toolkits....
Man Dying Of Cancer Enjoys Gardening - CBS 11
He wanders foot trails through scrubby forest and brush, exploring a patch of land set aside for a project he considers his "holy calling" — the transformation of 28 acres into a garden showcase and urban forest known as the Longview Arboretum and...


Part of a parterre in an English garden.

Gardening is the practice of growing ornamental or useful plants. Ornamental plants are normally grown for their flowers, foliage, or overall appearance. Useful plants may be grown for consumption (vegetables, fruits, herbs, or leaf vegetables) or for a variety of other purposes, such as medicines or dyes.

Gardening ranges in scale from fruit orchards, to long boulevard plantings with one or more different types of shrubs, trees and herbaceous plants, to residential yards including lawns and foundation plantings, to large or small containers grown inside or outside. Gardening may be very specialized, with only one type of plant grown, or involve a large number of different plants in mixed plantings. It involves an active participation in the growing of plants, and tends to be labor intensive, which differentiates it from farming or forestry.

Gardening for food extends far back into prehistory. Ornamental gardens were known in ancient times, a famous example being the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, while ancient Rome had dozens of gardens.

Residential gardening takes place near the home, in a space referred to as the garden. Although a garden typically is located on the land near a residence, it may also be located on a roof, in an atrium, on a balcony, in a windowbox, or on a patio or vivarium.

Gardening also takes place in non-residential green areas, such as parks, public or semi-public gardens (botanical gardens or zoological gardens), amusement and amusement parks, along transportation corridors, and around tourist attractions and garden hotels. In these situations, a staff of gardeners or groundskeepers maintains the gardens.

Impact Gardening is a way of using small space to great effect, keeping plants close together, which blocks weeds and requires very little upkeep once started.

Indoor gardening is concerned with the growing of houseplants within a residence or building, in a conservatory, or in a greenhouse. Indoor gardens are sometimes incorporated as part of air conditioning or heating systems.

Water gardening is concerned with growing plants adapted to pools and ponds. Bog gardens are also considered a type of water garden. These all require special conditions and considerations. A simple water garden may consist solely of a tub containing the water and plant(s).

Container gardening is concerned with growing plants in any type of container either indoors or outdoors. Common containers are pots, hanging baskets, and planters. Container gardening is usually used in atriums and on balconies, patios, and roof tops.

Community gardening is a social activity in which an area of land is gardened by a group of people, providing access to fresh produce and plants as well as access to satisfying labor, neighborhood improvement, sense of community and connection to the environment. Community gardens are typically owned in trust by local governments or nonprofits.

A "gardener" is any person involved in gardening, arguably the oldest occupation, from the hobbyist in a residential garden, the homeowner supplementing the family food with a small vegetable garden or orchard, to an employee in a plant nursery or the head gardener in a large estate.

The term gardener is also used to describe garden designers and landscape gardeners, who are involved chiefly in the design of gardens, rather than the practical aspects of horticulture.

Gardening has a long history, and there have been many pioneering gardeners of note, from the great landscape gardeners of the 18th century, to those who created or expanded the idea of the "no-dig" garden. In addition, television lifestyle programs have spawned a number of celebrity gardeners.

Gardening Departments and Centers are specialized in gardening.

In respect to its food producing purpose, gardening is distinguished from farming chiefly by scale and intent. Farming occurs on a larger scale, and with the production of saleable goods as a major motivation. Gardening is done on a smaller scale, primarily for pleasure and to produce goods for the gardener's own family or community. There is some overlap between the terms, particularly in that some moderate-sized vegetable growing concerns, often called market gardening, can fit in either category.

The key distinction between gardening and farming is essentially one of scale; gardening can be a hobby or an income supplement, but farming is generally understood as a full-time or commercial activity, usually involving more land and quite different practices. One distinction is that gardening is labor-intensive and employs very little infrastructural capital, sometimes no more than a few tools, e.g. a spade, hoe, basket and watering can. By contrast, larger-scale farming often involves irrigation systems, chemical fertilizers and harvesters or at least ladders, e.g. to reach up into fruit trees. However, this distinction is becoming blurred with the increasing use of power tools in even small gardens.

In part because of labor intensity and aesthetic motivations, gardening is very often much more productive per unit of land than farming. In the Soviet Union, half the food supply came from small peasants' garden plots on the huge government-run collective farms, although they were tiny patches of land. Some argue this as evidence of superiority of capitalism, since the peasants were generally able to sell their produce. Others consider it to be evidence of a tragedy of the commons, since the large collective plots were often neglected, or fertilizers or water redirected to the private gardens.

The term precision agriculture is sometimes used to describe gardening using intermediate technology (more than tools, less than harvesters), especially of organic varieties. Gardening is effectively scaled up to feed entire villages of over 100 people from specialized plots. A variant is the community garden which offers plots to urban dwellers; see further in allotment (gardening).

Garden design is considered to be an art in most cultures, distinguished from gardening, which generally means garden maintenance. In Japan, Samurai and Zen monks were often required to build decorative gardens or practice related skills like flower arrangement known as ikebana. In 18th century Europe, country estates were refashioned by landscape gardeners into formal gardens or landscaped park lands, such as at Versailles, France or Stowe, England. Today, landscape architects and garden designers continue to produce artistically creative designs for private garden spaces.

In modern Europe and North America, people often express their political or social views in gardens, intentionally or not. The lawn vs. garden issue is played out in urban planning as the debate over the "land ethic" that is to determine urban land use and whether hyper hygienist bylaws (e.g. weed control) should apply, or whether land should generally be allowed to exist in its natural wild state. In a famous Canadian Charter of Rights case, "Sandra Bell vs. City of Toronto", 1997, the right to cultivate all native species, even most varieties deemed noxious or allergenic, was upheld as part of the right of free expression.

People often surround their house and garden with a hedge. Common hedge plants are privet, hawthorn, beech, yew, leyland cypress, hemlock, arborvitae, barberry, box, holly, oleander, forsythia and lavender. The idea of open gardens without hedges may be distasteful to those who enjoy privacy. This may have an advantage to local wildlife by providing a habitat for birds, animals, and wild plants.

Gardening is thus not only a food source and art, but also a right. The Slow Food movement has sought in some countries to add an edible schoolyard and garden classrooms to schools, e.g. in Fergus, Ontario, where these were added to a public school to augment the kitchen classroom.

In US and British usage, the production of ornamental plantings around buildings is called landscaping, landscape maintenance or grounds keeping, while international usage uses the term gardening for these same activities.

A garden pest is generally an insect, plant, or animal that engages in activity that the gardener considers undesirable. It may crowd out desirable plants, disturb soil, eat young seedlings, steal fruit, or otherwise kill plants, hamper their growth, damage their appearance, or reduce the quality of the edible or ornamental portions of the plant.

Because each gardener may have different goals, a garden pest is what the gardener considers a pest. For example, Tropaeolum speciosum, while beautiful, can be considered a pest if it seeds and starts to grow where it is not wanted. As the root is well below ground, pulling it up does not remove it: it simply grows again and becomes what may be considered a pest.

As another example, in lawns, moss can become dominant and be impossible to eradicate. In some lawns, lichens, especially very damp lawn lichens such as Peltigera lactucfolia and P. membranacea, can become difficult and be considered pests.

There are many ways to remove unwanted pests from a garden. The techniques vary depending on the pest, the gardener's goals, and the gardener's philosophy. For example, snails may be dealt with through a chemical pesticide, an organic pesticide, hand-picking, barriers, or simply growing snail-resistant plants.

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Allotment (gardening)

Allotment plot, Prague, Czech Republic

Allotment gardens are characterised by a concentration in one place of a few or up to several hundreds of land parcels that are assigned to individuals or families. In allotment gardens, the parcels are cultivated individually, contrary to other community garden types where the entire area is tended collectively by a group of people. The individual size of a parcel ranges between 200 and 400 square meters, and often the plots include a shed for tools and shelter. The individual gardeners are organised in an allotment association which leases the land from the owner who may be a public, private or ecclesiastical entity, provided that it is only used for gardening (i.e. growing vegetables, fruits and flowers), but not for residential purposes. The gardeners have to pay a small membership fee to the association, and have to abide by the corresponding constitution and by-laws. However, the membership entitles them to certain democratic rights.

Allotment gardening used to be widely popular in Czechoslovakia under the communist regime. It gave people from suburban prefab apartment blocks "paneláky" a chance to escape from a city chaos, pollution and concrete architecture.

In 1778 land was laid out outside the fortifications of Fredericia for allotment gardens and according to a 1828 circular from the royal chancellery allotment gardens were established in several towns.

Private initiative formed the first Danish allotment association in Aalborg in 1884 and in Copenhagen an association named "Arbejdernes Værn" (lit. "The Worker's Protection") founded the first allotment gardens of the Danish Capital in 1891. Since then allotment gardens has spread to most Danish towns.

In 1904 there were about 20.000 allotment gardens in Denmark. 6.000 of them were in Copenhagen. During the interwar years the number of allotment gardens grew rapidly. In 2001 the number of allotment gardens was estimated to about 62.120.

In 1908 twenty allotment associations in Copenhagen formed the Allotment Garden Union which in 1914 was expanded to cover all of Denmark. The Allotment Garden Federation was founded to negotiate more favourable deals with the state and the municipalities from which the allotments associations rented the land. Today the federation represent roughly 400 allotment associations in 75 municipalities.

The Danish tradition for allotment gardens later spread to the other Scandinavian countries; first Sweden, then Norway and Finland.

Today most allotment gardens are on land owned by the municipality which rents the land to an allotment association. The association in turn gives each member a plot of land. To preserve allotment gardens as something that is available for all kinds of people the membership charge is set significantly below what a market price would be. Since allotments are often placed on attractive plots of land, this has led to huge waiting lists for membership in many allotment associations.

Although the main purpose of the allotment is gardening, most allotment gardens has a pavilion built in them. These pavilions can range in size from an old rebuilt railway car to a small summer house. Many people grow so fond of their allotment gardens that they live there the entire summer. In most cases it is however not allowed to live there the entire year.

In Danish culture the allotment garden has become a symbol of blue-collar culture. Both as a positive image of a more simple life closer to nature, with time to spend with the family and friendly neighbours to have a chat and a beer with, but also as a negative image of intolerant flag-waving whites keeping to themselves inside their small hedged kingdoms. However despite these negative stereotypes the garden idyll of the allotment still attracts people living in the city, regardless of class.

The first allotment garden was established 1916 in Tampere. Nowadays there are about 50 allotment gardens all around Finland. Those gardens have 5000 allotmenteers. Allotment gardens are very desired and prices are quite high.

The history of the allotment gardens in Germany is closely connected with the period of industrialization and urbanization in Europe during the 19th century when a large number of people migrated from the rural areas to the cities to find employment and a better life. Very often, these families were living under extremely poor conditions suffering from inappropriate housing, malnutrition and other forms of social neglect. To improve their overall situation and to allow them to grow their own food, the city administrations, the churches or their employers provided open spaces for garden purposes. These were initially called the “gardens of the poor” and were later termed as “allotment gardens”.

The idea of organised allotment gardening reached a first peak after 1864, when the so-called “Schreber Movement” started in the city of Leipzig in Saxony. A public initiative decided to lease areas within the city, with the purpose to make it possible for children to play in a healthy environment, and in harmony with nature. Later on, these areas included actual gardens for children, but soon adults tended towards taking over and cultivating these gardens. This kind of gardening type rapidly gained popularity not only in Germany, but also in other European countries, such as Austria and Switzerland.

The aspect of food security provided by allotment gardens became particularly evident during World Wars I and II. The socio-economic situation was very miserable, particularly as regards the nutritional status of urban residents. Many cities were isolated from their rural hinterlands and agricultural products did not reach the city markets anymore or were sold at very high prices at the black markets. Consequently, food production within the city, especially fruit and vegetable production in home gardens and allotment gardens, became essential for survival (Berliners cultivate vegetables by the ruins of the Reichstag in June 1946). The importance of allotment gardens for food security was so obvious that in 1919, one year after the end of World War I, the first legislation for allotment gardening in Germany was passed. The so-called “Small Garden and Small-Rent Land Law”, provided security in land tenure and fixed leasing fees. In 1983, this law was amended by the “Federal Allotment Gardens Act”(Bundeskleingartengesetz). Today, there are still about 1.4 million allotment gardens in Germany covering an area of 470 km².

Nevertheless, the importance of allotment gardening in Germany has shifted over the years. While in times of crisis and widespread poverty (from 1850 to 1950), allotment gardening was a part time job, and its main importance was to enhance food security and improve food supply, its present functions have to be seen under a different point of view. In times of busy working days and the hectic urban atmosphere, allotment gardens have turned into recreational areas and locations for social gatherings. As green oases within oceans of asphalt and cement, they are substantially contributing to the conservation of nature within cities. What was previously a part time job is nowadays considered as a hobby where the hectic schedule of the day becomes a distant memory, while digging the flowerbeds and getting a little soil under the fingernails. It appears young families are also rediscovering gardens as a place where children can grow up within a more natural environnement.

In 2003, the first allotment garden of the Philippines was established in Cagayan de Oro City, Northern Mindanao as part of a European Union funded project. Meanwhile, with the assistance of the German Embassy in Manila and several private donors from Germany, this number has grown to five self-sustaining gardens located in different urban areas of the city, enabling a total of 55 urban poor families the legal access to land for food production. Further four allotment gardens, two of them within the premises of public elementary schools are presently being set up for additional 36 families using the Asset Based Community Development approach. (Health Promoting Schools, Ecological Sanitation and School Gardens in Mindanao) Some of the gardeners belong to the socially most disadvantaged group in the city, the garbage pickers of the city’s landfill site . Aside of different vegetables, the gardeners grow also herbs and tropical fruits. In some gardens, small animals are kept and fish ponds are maintained to avail the gardeners of additional protein sources for the daily dietary needs. Each allotment garden has a compost heap where biodegradable wastes from the garden as well as from the neighboring households are converted into organic fertilizer, thus contributing to the integrated solid waste management program of the city. Further, all gardens are equipped with so-called urine-diverting ecological sanitation toilets similar to practices in Danish allotment gardens described by Bregnhøj et al.

In 1895, the first allotment garden of Sweden was established in Malmö, followed by Stockholm in 1904. The local authorities were inspired by Anna Lindhagen, a social-democratic leader and a woman in the upper ranks of society, who visited allotment gardens in Copenhagen and was delighted by them. In her first book on the topic devoted to the usefulness of allotment gardens she wrote: “For the family, the plot of land is a uniting bond, where all family members can meet in shared work and leisure. The family father, tired with the cramped space at home, may rejoice in taking care of his family in the open air, and feel responsible if the little plot of earth bestows a very special interest upon life.” Anna Lindhagen is said to have met Lenin when he passed through Stockholm from the exile in Switzerland on their return trip to Russia after the February Revolution in 1917 . She invited him to the allotment gardens of "Barnangen" to show all its benefits. However, she did not win his approval. Lenin was totally unresponsive to this kind of activity. To poke in the soil was to prepare the ground for political laziness in the class struggle. The workers should not be occupied with gardening, they should rather devote themselves to the proletarian revolution .

The Swedish Federation of Leisure Gardening was founded in 1921 and represents today more than 26000 allotment and leisure gardeners. The members are organised in about 275 local societies all over Sweden. The land is usually rented from the local authorities.

Several so called "community gardens" have been founded in the United States. Many of these began as "victory gardens" in World War II, and evolved into community gardens. Plots in these gardens are often rented out by the city, starting at plots of just 5x5ft, (1.52m). Due to the green movement many new gardens are being erected.

A 1732 engraving of Birmingham, England shows the town encircled by allotments, some of which still exist to this day. St Ann's Allotments in Nottingham, created in the 1830s, are currently regarded as the oldest allotments site in England, as well as the largest site of Victorian gardens in the world. Following the Inclosure Acts and the Commons Act 1876 the land available for personal cultivation by the poor was greatly diminished. To fulfil the need for land allotment legislation was included. The law was first fully codified in the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908, it was modified by the Allotments Act 1922 and subsequent Allotments Acts up until 1950.

Under the acts a local authority is required to maintain an "adequate provision" of land, usually a large allotment field which can then be subdivided into allotment gardens for individual residents at a low rent. The rent is set at what a person "may reasonably be expected to pay" (1950), in 1997 the average rent for a 10 square rods (250 m²) plot was £22 a year. Each plot cannot exceed 40 square rods (1000 m²) and must be used for the production of fruit or vegetables for consumption by the plot-holder and their family (1922), or of flowers for use by the plot-holder and their family. The exact size and quality of the plots is not defined. The council has a duty to provide sufficient allotments to meet demand. The total income from allotments was £2.61 million and total expenditure was £8.44 million in 1997.

The total number of plots has varied greatly over time. In the 19th and early 20th century, the allotment system supplied much of the fresh vegetables eaten by the poor. In 1873 there were 244,268 plots and by 1918 there were around 1,500,000 plots. While numbers fell in the 1920s and 1930s, following an increase to 1,400,000 during World War II there were still around 1,117,000 plots in 1948. This number has been in decline since then, falling to 600,000 by the late 1960s. The Thorpe Inquiry of 1969 investigated the decline and put the causes as the decline in available land, increasing prosperity and the growth of other leisure activities.

Increased interest in "green" issues from the 1970s revived interest in allotment gardening, whilst the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG), and the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society (SAGS) in Scotland, continued to campaign on the behalf of allotment users. However, the rate of decline was only slowed, falling from 530,000 plots in 1970 to 497,000 in 1977, although there was a substantial waiting list. By 1980 the surge in interest was over, and by 1997 the number of plots had fallen to around 265,000, with waiting lists of 13,000 and 44,000 vacant plots. In 2008 The Guardian reported that 330 000 people held an allotment, whilst 100,000 were on waiting lists. The keeping of an allotment is colloquially referred to as allotmenteering. This term has not yet been officially recognised, but is widely used among tenants of allotments, including Gardeners World presenter, Joe Swift.

In 2006, a report commissioned by the London Assembly identified that whilst demand was at an all time high across the capital, the pressures caused by high density building was further decreasing the amount of allotment land. The issue was given further publicity when The Guardian newspaper reported on the community campaign against the potential impact of the development for the 2012 Summer Olympics on the future of the century-old Manor Garden Allotments. In March, 2008, Geoff Stokes, secretary of the National Society for Allotments, claimed that Councils are failing in their duty to provide allotments. "hey sold off land when demand was not so high. This will go on because developers are now building houses with much smaller gardens." The Local Government Association has issued guidance asking councils to consider requiring developers to set land aside to make up for the shortfalls in allotment plots.

Against the falling trend of land set aside for allotments is an increasing awareness of the need for cities to counter issues of food security and climate change through greater self-sufficiency. This drive to expand allotmenteering is also a response to food price inflation and surplus provision of land in post-industrial towns and cities in the developed world. It finds some inspiration in the urban agriculture response of Cuba to the United States embargo against Cuba in 1962. Some of these themes were taken up in a recent urban agriculture project in Middlesbrough in the Tees Valley.

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Raised bed gardening

Raised bed gardening

Raised bed gardening is a form of gardening in which the soil is formed in 3–4 foot (1.0–1.2 m) wide beds, which can be of any length or shape. The soil is raised above the surrounding soil (6 inches to waist high), sometimes enclosed by a frame generally made of wood, rock, or concrete blocks, and enriched with compost. The vegetable plants are spaced in geometric patterns, much closer together than conventional row gardening. The spacing is such that when the vegetables are fully grown, their leaves just barely touch each other, creating a microclimate in which moisture is conserved and weed growth suppressed. Raised beds produce a variety of benefits: they extend the planting season; they reduce the need to use poor native soil; and they can reduce weeds if designed properly. Since the gardener does not walk on the raised beds, the soil is not compacted and the roots have an easier time growing. The close plant spacing and the use of compost generally result in higher yields with raised beds in comparison to conventional row gardening. Waist high raised beds enable the old and sick to grow vegetables without having to bend over to tend them.

Raised beds lend themselves to the development of complex agriculture systems that utilize many of the principles and methods of Permaculture. They can be used effectively to control erosion and recycle and conserve water and nutrients by building them along contour lines on slopes. This also makes more space available for intensive crop production. They can be created over large areas with the use of several commonly available tractor-drawn implements and efficiently maintained, planted and harvested using hand tools.

This form of gardening is compatible with square foot gardening and companion planting.

Circular waist high raised beds with a path to the center (a slice of the circle cut out) are called keyhole gardens. Often the center has a chimney of sorts built with sticks and then lined with feedbags or grasses that allows water placed at the center to flow out into the soil and reach the plants' roots. The charity 'Send a Cow' is promoting the creation of these in Africa.

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Urban gardening

Urban gardening involves growing plants in an urban environment. Usually this refers to growing inside the home or on a roof or terrace, though urban gardening may also include growing plants in windowboxes.

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No-dig gardening

No-dig gardening is a non-cultivation method used by some organic gardeners. Masanobu Fukuoka started his pioneering research work in this domain in 1938, and the Fukuokan philosophy of "Do Nothing Farming" is now acknowledged by some as the tap root of the Permaculture movement. No-dig gardening was also promoted by Australian Esther Dean, and American Ruth Stout advocated a "permanent" garden mulching technique in Gardening Without Work.

This technique recognizes that micro- and macro-biotic organisms constitute a "food web" community in the soil, necessary for the healthy cycling of nutrients and prevention of problematic organisms and diseases. The plants transfer a portion of the carbon energy they produce to the soil, and microbes that benefit from this energy in turn convert available organic substances in the soil to the mineral elements the plants need to thrive.

Historically the reasons for tilling the soil are to remove weeds, loosen and aerate the soil, and incorporate organic matter such as compost or manure into lower soil layers. In areas with thin soil and high erosion there is a strong case against digging, which argues that in the long term it can be detrimental to the food web in the fragile topsoil. While digging is an effective way of removing perennial weed roots, it also often causes seeds that can remain dormant for many decades to come to the surface and germinate. Digging can also damage soil structure, causing compaction, and unbalance symbiotic and mutualist interactions among soil life. Digging tends to displace nutrients, shifting surface organic material deeper, where there is less oxygen to support the decomposition to plant-available nutrients, which then need to be otherwise replenished. Digging is practiced traditionally in countries with old, deep, rich soils such as Western Europe, however traditionally there, this is followed by periodic resting of the soil, usually with an undisturbed cover crop.

No-dig methods allow nature to carry out cultivation operations. Organic matter such as well rotted manure, compost, leaf mold, spent mushroom compost, old straw, etc, is added directly to the soil surface as a mulch at least 5-15 centimeters (2-6 in) deep, which is then incorporated by the actions of worms, insects and microbes. Worms and other soil life also assist in building up the soil's structure, their tunnels providing aeration and drainage, and their excretions bind together soil crumbs. This natural biosphere maintains healthy conditions in the upper soil horizons where annual plant roots thrive. No-dig systems are said to be freer of pests and disease, possibly due to a more balanced soil population being allowed to build up in this undisturbed environment, and by encouraging the buildup of beneficial rather than harmful soil fungi. Moisture is also retained more efficiently under mulch than on the surface of bare earth, allowing slower percolation and less leaching of nutrients.

Another no-dig method is sheet mulching wherein a garden area is covered with wetted paper or cardboard, compost and topped off with landscape mulch.

A no-dig system is easier than digging. It is a long term process, and is reliant upon having plentiful organic matter to provide mulch material. It is also helpful to remove any perennial weed roots from the area beforehand, although their hold can be weakened by applying a light-excluding surface layer such as large sheets of cardboard or several thicknesses of spread out newspaper before adding the compost mulch. The newspaper or cardboard should be thoroughly wet as well. A popular book, Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza (Rodale Press, Inc.) provides excellent instructions for the novice user.

Esther Dean, an Australian gardener and author, is notable pioneer of no dig gardening. Dean wrote the books No-Dig Gardening and Leaves of Life. She was still actively gardening at age 86 and promoted gardens for those with special needs. She inspired many famous gardeners including Bill Mollison of the Permaculture Movement although she said "it is not quite how I would do it", implying she did not allow nature to take over, but retained formality with strict garden edges and more annuals.

Gardens fashioned on Esther Dean's no dig gardening principles include Randwick Community Organic Garden (RCOG), Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

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Source : Wikipedia