Let’s Grow Food – No Dig Method

Let’s Grow Food – No Dig Method

Cutting a very narrow trench for the slug guards
Finished bed with slug barriers inserted and soil piled on top of the cardboard

The photographs above were taken last November at the establishment of a community garden in a housing estate in Cork City. The community garden included two raised beds and we followed the no dig method. This was a collaboration between the residents of the housing estate, Green Spaces for Health, the Cork Food Policy Council and Kinsale Permaculture College.

So how did we make the raised beds?

  1. We identified the optimum location for the growing of vegetables. We asked what part of our area got the most sunlight? How long did we want to make the beds? How far apart could they be? Can the raised beds be accessed easily?
  2. Next we marked out the perimeter of the beds with twine and twigs having measured it first.
  3. Then we laid out the cardboard. We also removed staples, tape and we used only brown cardboard.
  4. We installed the slug fences by pushing them 1 inch into a narrow trench we made with our shovels. The slug fences are made of light galvanised metal that deter slugs. But you can use timber lengths, or sleepers or whatever materials you have.
  5. Finally the fun bit; we piled on the soil 5 inches deep. The soil we used is called Enrich, it is organic topsoil.


  1. Cardboard
  2. Twine and twigs
  3. Tape measure
  4. * Optional Slug fences. https://shii-take.de/en/slug-fences-and-slug-protection/ These cost €4.40 for 1 metres long strip plus delivery from Germany
  5. Soil. We used 3 x 1 cubic metre bags of ENRICH Organic topsoil. http://www.enrich.ie This soil is manufactured in Ireland and you can purchase it at MDO’Sheas in Cork for €85 per metre cubed bag, free delivery. https://www.mdoshea.ie/topsoil-cubic-metre-bag-cork-kerry?search=enrich%20 *You may know of a farmer who can provide you with topsoil just check to see what type of soil it is, is it safe for growing food.

How do I know how much soil I need?

If you need to calculate how much soil you require, use this calculator, it’s very easy: https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/soil-calculator/7558.html

Bark mulch and leafs were laid around and between the raised beds to suppress grass

What about outside and around the raised beds

It its good to have a border immediately outside and around your raised bed that covered in bark mulch or leafs or other material. This surpasses the growth of grass that could leech the goodness of your soil and form competition with what you have growing.

Another tip to remember is that if you establish your raised bed in autumn or winter and you won’t be planting into it for another few months, you should cover it with plastic or some material to ensure the rain doesn’t cause run off of all the nutrients.


Charles Dowding the master of No dig

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *