Itching to get digging in the garden? Fight the urge | Alys Fowler

Even if you love your spade, you must heed the soil’s needs

I can never get over how much the desire to see clean, neatly dug winter beds is at odds with what the soil needs. Soil always wants to be blanketed, not left bare and exposed to the elements. It wants the warmth of mulch, or the cover of a crop, be it green manure or winter weeds.

Still, I recognise that winter is the time to get on with planning and creating a garden, and beds need to be ready by spring. I’d advocate a no-dig policy every time for this. If you’re starting from scratch, put down cardboard and a thick layer (10-15cm deep) of well-rotted mulch, farmyard manure or compost. Job done, pass go and do not dig.

Related: Heated propagators | Alys Fowler

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