We’ve told you about the no-dig and “lasagna” methods of organic gardening, which are wonderful, innovative gardening approaches that can save time and help regenerate depleted soils. Both involve layering newspaper, straw, compost, and other organic materials on top of the ground surface to create a growth medium that can handle everything from potatoes to flowers.
Typically, a no-dig or lasagna garden shouldn’t be tilled from one growing season to the next, because the growth medium improves with time as it decays and compacts, and becomes increasingly attractive to earthworms and other beneficial organisms.
That said, “no-dig” doesn’t necessarily mean “never dig.” If the natural soil is of poor quality and too compact in the first place, you’ll find that the productivity of your no-dig garden will fall off over time. Among other things, the earthworms and other beneficial organisms have no place to retreat to when the overlying fertile layer becomes too wet, too dry, too warm, or too cold.
So before layering on the organic materials in the first place, till up the underlying soil and enrich it with compost or other organic amendments. Not only will this loosen up the soil, it will make it drain better. After this initial treatment, you shouldn’t have to worry about it again.