I grew up with my father spending time in the garden growing the families’ vegetables. Lots of time weeding, watering and turning over the soil preparing to plant the next lot of vegetables. Sometimes that bed was dug and turned over several times before Dad was satisfied enough to start planting the next vegetables. His belief was that you had to turn the soil to aerate it and break it up so that whatever you planted had the opportunity to successfully produce vegetables.
Prior to Dad passing he would spend time with me here at Tullamore Farm checking out the vegetable beds. Having worn-out several Digging Forks and Spades, not to mention his back, he struggled initially with the fact we rarely used either implement. He became, begrudgingly a massive believer in No Dig growing.
With the exception of carrots, all of our vegetables are grown using No-Dig principles. We don’t dig up or turn over the soil. We add our compost to top up the beds and we allow the earthworms plus everything else found in the soil to aerate and do the job nature intended. With the exception of where we are planting Carrots, all our beds have a reasonable layer of sugar cane mulch over the surface of the soil. This copies what occurs in nature and that layer of sugar cane mulch helps retain the moisture, suppress weeds and provides some cover for everything living in the soil.
When planting out seeds or seedlings we normally use an old metal tent peg to poke the desired size hole in the ground and then gently plant. Minimising soil disturbance this way has the benefit of not exposing the worms and other beneficial organisms to the weather and elements. We have seen this improve the long term quality of our soil. When you rarely (if ever) turn the soil you reduce the weeds in your patch, as any existing seeds are less likely to be triggered to life plus the thick cover of sugarcane mulch suppresses them. You also reduce the amount of watering required.