We’ve run this workshop three times this year with great feedback. I promised to summarise the process, so here goes.
Step 1) Lay polythene for five months or longer to kill the perennial grasses and weeds. We cover our polythene with mulch to prevent UV degradation of the plastic and to make the market gardens look nicer. After 20 weeks peel back the much and reuse it somewhere, and then lift the polythene.
Step 2) Loosen the compacted soil. We use stainless steel broad forks that I had welded up by a friend for a box of beer. Any broad fork will do or garden fork. The point is to mechanically break up the soil. First go lengthwise.
Then go crosswise.
Step 3) Break up the soil cubes you’ve just formed into smaller chunks. This is best done when the soil is not too wet and not too dry. It may pay to wait a day or two before doing this step. A rake or a hoe or a garden fork or a spade can be used.
Step 4) Form beds. Standing on one side of the 1.2 metre wide bed rake the path from the other side up onto he bed. The switch sides and repeat.
Step 5) Continue to pulverise the soil and rake the beds flat with a back and forth motion to prepare a fine planting surface.
The end result is a series of raised rows in a no-dig system easily maintained with a stirrup hoe.