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Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil.To feed the world, to clean the air and water, we need to change what we do with our soils.This podcast looks at the many variants of regenerative food growing. How? Why? When?We must be the ChangeUnderground!


53 #worldorgaincnews 2017 02 27


WORLD ORGANIC NEWS in the Australian Podcast Awards Click here


Five Notable Organic Gardening Methods | Garden Variety


Keyhole Garden Images


Hugelkultur Images*


Lasagna Garden Images




This is the World Organic News for the week ending 27th of February 2017.

Jon Moore reporting!


This week we focus upon five gardening ideas! These come from the blog post: Five Notable Organic Gardening Methods by  Garden Variety.


Four of these techniques are no-dig and one involves intensive digging. I assume by now you know my preference is for no-dig but I realise there are people out there happy to bend their backs and turn the soil.


We’ll begin with the digging system: French Intensive Gardening.  The post gives a good description of the process.



The French Intensive Gardening method was re-established in a two acre garden plot just outside of Paris in the late 1800’s. The purpose was to grow an abundance of vegetables year round in a several mid-sized growing beds for the home and markets. Generally, a wide bed (5ft in width) is dug approximately 12 inches in depth. The soil from this bed is placed to the side.  At the bottom of the trench, the soil is turned another 12 inches and then loosened with a sturdy garden fork and 1/3 yard of compost added. An additional bed is dug utilizing this same technique. After this is done, put the reserved soil from the first bed is placed back into the trench and mixed with 1/2 yard of compost (or manure).

End Quote.


This double digging and moving soil about can be done within the confines of a single bed. A spade’s width of soil is removed at one end. The soil under it is dug and loosened. The next spade width of soil is turned onto the first and the second dug and loosened and so on until the end of the bed is reached and the first soil removed is added to the last spade width of the garden bed. Manures and compost being added throughout the process.

As you can see this system requires a large amount of effort and it comes from a time when labour costs, let alone personal time costs, were much lower. The idea of double digging was to aerate the soil and to bury potential weed seeds. The bed was left bare to the elements until the plantings covered the surface area.


The system works and is productive. It provided food all year round and that’s a good starting point for any system. Sorry you listeners in Canada, the Northern parts of the USA and Scandinavia. I won’t even glance at our listeners in Russia.


The annual soil turning and the surface of the garden bed left exposed seems to point against this method. I’ve heard it argued that this a good first year technique, especially when the soil is compacted and/or a pan have formed below the surface. Masanobu Fukuoka, of The One Straw Revolution, faced just this problem in his orchard. He overcame this not by digging but by broadcasting daikon radish seeds and allowing this three foot monster radishes to loosen the soil for him. Your choice.


Now to the no-dig methods.

We start with Keyhole Gardening. This system relies on a garden bed with a walkway cut into it. Usually circular in form The beds are uber raised to waist level. The post explains:



Keyhole Gardening was introduced in Africa by the Consortium for Southern Africa Food Security Emergency (C-SAFE) to help ailing and frail Africans grow their own produce with minimum effort by means of a specialized raised bed. The bed, which is waist high and in the shape of a keyhole, allows for standing and leaning for long periods and is built using stacked rocks, bricks, wood or pieces of concrete. A compost bin is placed in the center of the bed and as material breaks down, the resulting composted nutrients are added to the soil.

End Quote.


There is much to recommend this system. The appealing circular nature of the beds is great for setting it’s size to the reach of the gardener. Circles aren’t overly efficient in space use but maybe you could interconnect hexagonal beds like a beehive? Anyway I’ve provided a link to the google images page for keyhole gardens in the show notes.


Now we come to Hügelkultur!


Hügelkultur (a German word for hill mound) is a growing method that is believed to have originated from Eastern Europe thousands of years ago. Widely utilized by permaculture enthusiasts, it is based on the concept of natural occurring decomposition of plant material in forests; ergo fallen trees, branches and other plant material which over time has decayed and created a healthy biomass of rich hummus. The process of layered debris is continuous thus creating an organic, lush, green ecosystem teeming with beneficial life.

End Quote.


I believe this system is also good for extending the growing season as the heat generated by the decomposing pile of organic material maintains a level of warmth into Autumn/Fall. I saw a man using these gardens in mountainous country when frosts can arrive at most times of the year. It takes some time and effort to set up a hugelkultur garden but the work tends to be maintenance over time rather than a re-start each year. I’m not sure how long these garden last but I’m assuming five years as a minimum. Again I’ve put a link to images of Hugelkultur gardens in the show notes.


Onto Deep Mulch Gardening.



The Deep Mulch Gardening method was made popular by gardening expert Ruth Stout in the 1960’s, offers a low maintenance-no work philosophy. Garden beds are covered in large amounts of hay, straw, leaves, pine needles, sawdust and vegetable waste periodically to create a barrier to deter weeds and enriching existing soil underneath as it gradually decomposes. When starting a new bed, it is recommended to mulch at least 8 inches thick over a planting area.

End Quote.


This system can be used on top of the French Intensive beds if you’ve given up on digging. The idea is to mimic Nature, always a good starting point, by laying an 8 to 12 inch (20 to 30cm) layer on the garden bed as per the floor of a forest. Idea is to save the soil from temperature extremes and drying out alternating with flooding. The mulch acts as a sort of leveling tool for water flow. Mulch also attracts biota to both live within it and to assist in its decomposition. I’ve used urine soaked goat bedding as a mulch over yellow very sandy soil. Within one growing season the soil was black, rich in humus and at least 18 inches, (50cm) deep. I can, therefore, confirm this system works.


A variation on this system is the Lasagna Garden.



The Lasagna Gardening movement was conceived by Patricia Lanza and is a method of layering compostable material on top of a planting area to form a large mound which, over time, will decompose into viable and loamy soil and compost. The material normally used for layering is wet newspapers, peat moss, sand, compost, grass clippings, shredded leaves and wood ash.

End Quote


This is a more formal version of the deep mulch system. First year production can be less than expected but not necessarily so. Either way, production increases each year as the material decomposes and feeds the soil. As with the other no-dig systems, Lasagna gardens need to be topped up each year with organic materials. This is a whole easier than double digging. If we let the soil systems do the work for us, we will find they do so 24 hours a day every day of the year. If we keep the soil covered, not with plastic but with organic matter, we will protect it, we will be nurturing it and it will support us in return.


A link to the google images page for Lasagna gardening is in the show notes.


And that brings us to the end of this week’s podcast.


If you’ve liked what you heard, could please follow the link in the show notes and vote for World Organic News in the Australian Podcast Awards Click here Thanks in advance.


Any suggestions, feedback or criticisms of the podcast or blog are most welcome. email me at


Thank you for listening and I'll be back in a week.




WORLD ORGANIC NEWS in the Australian Podcast Awards Click here


Five Notable Organic Gardening Methods | Garden Variety


Keyhole Garden Images


Hugelkultur Images*


Lasagna Garden Images


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