Digging in our Arizona soils can be a difficult task, especially with the caliche we have. Instead of digging in the soil, try this sustainable and fun family project. Make your own "No Dig Garden Bed"! By doing this you will have a garden bed that's ready to plant in the spring, you will begin composting lots of debris from your yard and you will have done something sustainable in your yard. Here are the steps:
1. Decide where you want your garden bed. Remember you need at least six hours of sunshine, preferably the morning sun, on your garden. And remember the length of your garden beds should run East and West.
2. Lay newspaper or cardboard right on top of the grass. One layer of cardboard or five to ten sheets of newspaper will do the job. A good dimension for one bed is 4' wide by 8' long, but they can be any size that fits your needs. Overlap the edges by a few inches to ensure that you have all of the grass well covered.
2. If you want a boarder around your garden bed, then put it in place now. You can use lumber, plastic, synthetic wood, railroad ties, bricks, rocks, or a number of other items, get creative and sustainable and use something you already have.
3. Wet down the paper or cardboard layer. Give it plenty of water.
4. Start a layering of organic matter. Anything will work for this, leaves, grass clippings, finished or nearly-finished compost, and straw, ripped up newspapers, old vegatables from your pantry or refrigerator. You get the idea!
5. Add the organic matter, in three to four inch layers. At least four layers is best. Your finished height should be one foot tall. The organic matter will decompose over the winter, and the pile will shrink by more than half. Introducing earth worms to your organic matter will speed up the process.
6. Water the entire bed once you're done layering.
7. Spend the winter planning what you're going to put in your new bed.
By spring time, most of the organic matter will be broken down, and you can plant your garden.