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For many gardeners, the almost obligatory digging in autumn is a very special event. After all, it is one of the last works that can be done in the garden in the open air, before the approaching winter brings the first snow and banished gardener into the house. Other gardeners see in digging rather as annoying as exhausting work, they would rather spare. If you now belong to the latter group of gardeners, you will be pleased that in recent years more and more recognized experts expressly oppose the digging, as it is not only completely unnecessary, but even counterproductive and could damage the garden subsequently, Although the counter-arguments, which speak clearly against digging in general, on closer inspection prove to be plausible, but there are still situations in which it is just advisable to dig up the garden.
Arguments against digging up
In itself, the list of all arguments against digging in the fall is too long for any argument to be fully considered here at this point. For this reason, in the following only the most important points will be illustrated en dé-tail. One of these points is that the garden floor is a true microcosm with up to ten billion inhabitants per liter of earth. Although the naturally perfectly tuned habitat may not be irretrievably destroyed by digging, it usually does so much damage that, in hindsight, plants will find it very difficult to thrive in the best way possible.
To the said residents of the Edaphons, as the pedological term for the flora and fauna of the soil is, countless bacteria, protozoa, insects and fungi as well as earthworms, moles and other beneficials, all together contribute to improve the soil quality sustainably. For example, the many creatures in the soil decompose humus, which makes them usable for plants in the first place.
In addition, many gardeners believe that they can keep their beds weed free by digging. However, this assumption is only partially true. In fact, there is a risk that by digging up weed seeds can reach the surface of the earth, which may have been sleeping in the depths of garden soil for several years and could now completely overgrow whole beds.
In addition, ditched garden areas threaten to dry out faster, which in turn would require increased watering. Consequently, digging up in two ways would be a considerable amount of work that many experts believe could be avoided.
Arguments for digging
Although, in most cases, it is not advisable to dig because of the above arguments, under certain circumstances you should still dig your beds at least once before the first sowing. For example, if your beds have been fallow for a long time and are now almost wild. In addition, the prevailing soil texture can also be used for digging. Heavy clay or clay soils, which can only be fertilized by consistent composting and regular digging, are examples of this.
A decisive advantage of digging in autumn in comparison to digging in spring is, moreover, that the frost of the following winter crushes the mostly very large clods, which also increases the proportion of invaluable air pores in the earth to a certain extent.
Furthermore, it should be noted that you should take the trouble directly when digging to remove every little root as far as possible, since your whole work would otherwise have been largely in vain, at least in view of the weed infestation of your beds.
Tip: So that the beets remain free of weeds for as long as possible after digging, it is advisable to plant potatoes in the first year and sow a so-called green manure the following year.
Alternatives to conventional digging
Anyone who does not want to dig their beds due to the aforementioned arguments or simply because of the immense amount of work they do in the autumn can simply cover them with a thick mulch layer in late summer or early autumn after the end of the current gardening season. In addition to ordinary autumn leaves or green cuttings, crop waste or (semi) mature compost are suitable for this purpose. Instead, you could also sow a fast-growing green manure, which you must, however, absolutely mow in the spring before seed maturity. Another method is to interpret water-permeable garden fleece or corresponding gardening foil on the beds.
Since each of these methods protects the soil sufficiently against excessive temperature fluctuations, excessive weed growth and the so-called sludge, it is ultimately up to you which you prefer. However, it should be noted that you should remove both the mulch and the foundation or the flow or the film until shortly before the first sowing, in order to minimize the risk of unpleasant weed infestation.
After you have removed the cover of the beds, you can loosen up the soil with the help of a suitable cultivator, such as a so-called "tooth," and then remove any weed residue with a special cultivator or a traditional garden rake. Finally, it is advisable then, about two weeks before sowing mature compost with a rake work into the soil.
Alternatives summarized in a nutshell
- Cover the beds with a mulch layer
- Sow green manure
- Cover beds with special garden fleece or appropriate foil from the garden department
- Rake the beds regularly
- Cultivate beds
Do I need special garden fleece or can I simply use conventional foil?
Since garden fleece, in contrast to conventional film, allows both water and air to pass through, it alone is the better choice in terms of the countless creatures in the ground.
Can not you just sprinkle lime to destroy weeds?
It is true that liming can help against certain weed species. However, there is a risk that the beds will become overly acidic.
Is it true that leaving ragged weeds to help against new weeds?
Unfortunately, this is only partially true.