Le kitchen garden lazy : gardening effortlessly with hay. Hay: a super-material "4 in 1"
DR photos: Didier Helmstetter.
Introductory photo: vegetables grown in never-worked soil - no spade, no pickaxe, no hoe, no grelinette… And of course, without using a tiller!
The use of hay, in place of other materials (straw, compost, bark, dead leaves, etc.), is the key to the system. It plays 4 essential roles, which allows the gardener to laze.
First, like any opaque cover (if the thickness is sufficient), it blocks annual weeds, which no longer germinate. No need to hoe or dig.
Then, it maintains an intense biological life in the soil, with in particular earthworms (particularly those of the group of "anecic worms", which dig vertical galleries). They will be numerous and very active because they are well fed. In reality, it is a whole armada of organizations that set to work to "work" and build the soil. This activity results in the secretion of glus. It sets in motion a process of “aggravation” of the soil (it is the opposite of “degradation”). So naturally, without any work, this leads, in a few months, to a soil "which looks like couscous". No need to dig or pass the grelinette. "And above all, do not use a tiller, which massacres the worms by shredding them! "
In addition, the cover provides protection for the soil and its organisms against attack: the “lumps” (aggregates) that form are not degraded by the shock of raindrops; even under severe thunderstorms, and despite the slope, it has no trace of erosion, no fine particles carried away; fertility remains. Protected from wind and sun, the soil is kept moist, which promotes the activity of organisms and the growth of plants. No need to weed to keep the soil loose and airy.
Finally, the decomposition of hay provides the soil, and thereby plants, all the nutrients essential for their growth. And not only the few "major" elements (the famous NPK) that we bring with fertilizers. These elements were taken from the meadow, during the growth of the grass, which absorbed everything a plant needs. Hay is therefore also a "very complete organic fertilizer", with slow release since it must first be broken down, which is done naturally according to the rate of plant growth (the soil organisms that do this follow also the rhythm of the seasons). No need to fertilize! Even manure, "which is only what remains of hay when it has passed through the digestive tract of animals, which have taken their nutrients there, mixed with straw, poorer still", is irrelevant!
This is, in summary, the "natural springs" on which this approach is based ... And that explains why the results are so spectacular.
It should be noted that straw (except using “organic” straw) contains residues from the various treatments undergone by the cereal, including fungicides often sprayed only a few weeks before harvest, shorteners, herbicides, while hay from natural meadows has generally not been treated. "All the more reason to favor hay instead of straw!" "...
Last surprise: "It should also be noted that this way of doing things works much better and faster by setting up your vegetable patch in a meadow or a lawn or even a wasteland". In a "traditional" garden, the soil will have been clubbed and partly poisoned, the population of anecic worms will be low or even nonexistent in the event of intensive use of the tiller, mineral fertilizers and certain pesticides, even "organic" (copper , commonly used in "organic", is a poison for soil, worms, fungi, mycorrhizae; it settles there). In the case of such a soil, it will sometimes be necessary to persevere for half a dozen years before natural mechanisms take over! In a meadow, it will only take 6 months or 1 year for everything to be "top"!