We’ve been talking about starting a garden in the last few videos so I thought I’d go back to the very beginning and show you how to start a low cost no dig garden the smart & easy way.

It’s literally 3 steps:
1. mark out & “edge” your garden area
2. lay down cardboard & saturate it completely
3. add soil & compost

Today I’m on the north side of my garden where I actually extended the garden just a tiny bit. And I’ve talked about this in previous videos, but you’ll also see it in the video below – I extended it a bit and I laid it out, but I never actually came out here and finished making it into an actual garden.

So that’s what I’m gonna do today and I just wanted to share it with y’all now. I do no dig gardening, which to me is the smartest way to do it. It’s the least labor intensive way to do it and probably the least expensive way to start a low cost no dig garden in my opinion. A lot of people do no dig gardening, and there’s some variations in how people do it, but there’s no right or wrong way.

The bottom line is you just need to cover up the grasses or whatever’s already there. You know, define your border and fill with dirt and start planting. So that’s the basics of it.

Watch the video below to see how I do it, and this is how I started all of my gardens. Well, this is how I started the first two gardens on the south side of the house, and then extended all the way across the back the same way, and now I’m doing this exactly the same way.

If you don’t prefer video, you can keep reading below.

How to Start a Low Cost No Dig Garden: Quick & Easy

I have this tiny little garden extension. It’s not very big, but big enough to grow some tomatoes or some cucumbers, which is great because I’ve been trying to rotate crops and I’ve had tomatoes all over the place.

I’ve only had cucumbers on the south side of the garden, but I’m thinking this year I’ll put them over here to the north side in this new extension. The basis of what I wanted to show you guys is just this….

The way I no dig or no till is that I laid down cardboard and then I wet the cardboard. So this space had been laid out for a while. And by “laid out” I just kind of marked it out with the bricks a while ago, but I didn’t put my cardboard down immediately because I knew that I was not ready. So I just left this area open and there were some potted plants sitting in here for a good long time.

The reason I did not put my cardboard down is because I learned a lesson from the other areas of a garden, of the garden, that if I put the cardboard down and let it sit down there for a period of time, say a week or two, the ants love to make a home underneath the cardboard.

So, I just left it open so that that wouldn’t happen. But since I knew it was going to rain overnight, I came out here yesterday and put my cardboard down. I just went all the way around. My bricks are a little wonky, I’ll come back through and fix that. Add dirt underneath, make them level and all that good stuff.

But initially, I just wanted to get out here and get this part done. Yesterday I did a little bit of pre planning knowing that rain was coming. I laid out the cardboard here and I went and picked up some dirt. So I have regular flower and vegetable garden soil and some compost. And I may amend this with compost from my backyard bin as well.

Don’t know if I’ll need to do that yet. But the bottom line is, now that the cardboard is down, I let the rain wet it down for me so I didn’t have to use my own water. And now I’m just gonna lay out my dirt, I don’t have to worry about the ants, and we’ll be ready to start planting!

I’ll leave this space empty for quite a while until I’m ready to put some transplants out here or plant my cucumbers directly in the garden.

And honestly, you guys, that’s pretty much it. Like there’s not much more to it. Obviously I’m going to need more dirt than this. And here’s one thing that I did want to talk to y’all about though, that I didn’t mention before.

Tip #1 to Start a Low Cost No Dig Garden

There’s logs all the way across portions of this garden bed. You can barely see them in the video above. When I tried to build up the ground to put the bricks in, I used little shards of pieces of logs & branches underneath there, as opposed to using dirt, because dirt is expensive. So that’s kind of like how I leveled off, and I’ll use the dirt to come back and level off the bricks some more.

But, there’s about four inches from where the original bed is to where the grass was level. So, I essentially, in the back, since I know I’m not going to be planting much in the very, very back I used logs and different things, kind of like the Hügelkultur Method.

It’s where you use yard debris, things like branches and you know, whatever you can find to kind of build up that area and then you cover up with all of your dirt and compost. So that way you don’t have to use as much dirt because the underneath layer is is you know other things and so you’re just filling in pockets.

I did that a little bit on this side, but still in all you can see any more is dirt. Essentially that is it for no dig and now you can understand why I like to do it this way because it’s super quick and easy. And very satisfying because it is so quick and easy.

Now, this was a small space so I might be able to do with one more bag of dirt or maybe one more bag of compost one or the other but not both. So essentially what will happen now is that I’ll just let this sit for a while, let the rain water it in, and then when I’m ready to plant, I can just come plant.

Tip #2 to Start a Low Cost No Dig Garden

And that was super simple. Quick note about dirt. I bought these bags of dirt from one of my favorite hardware stores, Ace Hardware. It’s kind of like a big box store, but it feels more like a mom and pop when you go in there. So I bought the bags for here because it’s such a small space, but in the rest of the garden, I actually go to a dirt yard and buy premium soil.

You just have to be very very careful about what type of soil you get so that you know it’s fast draining, has nutrients in it, but doesn’t have like fertilizers or anything extra added into it. So for the rest of the yard, I do that because it’s much more cost effective because you can get a truckload for less than buying bags

We have a Toyota Tundra full cab, and we can get a truckload where that is completely full for like $20. Whereas this dirt that I just bought, I used a coupon, but without that coupon, just these two bags would have been $20.

So that’s just a few quick tips right there. Anyway, that’s pretty much it from the garden this week. Not too much to share, other than just waiting on seedlings to grow, which are doing really well inside under the grow lights. I shared that last week in this video.

Some of them were up in three days, which is so super exciting. So I’m getting very, very excited for the spring. I hope you guys are too, and I appreciate you for tuning in. Thank you so much for your support.

As always, let me know in the comments if you have any questions or tips to add, and I’ll see you next time. I’m breathing hard. I’m tired. I’ll see you next time in the garden. Bye!

 ​Take a look at these videos for more info on how to get growing:

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