Category Archives: no dig gardening

Philippine Surgical Method of Planting on Display at the Gardens

On display at the gardens this season is a demonstration of a method of planting recently employed on the island of Bohol in the Philippines.  Plotholder Dion Calzado, from Bohol has employed the “surgical method of planting” used in his homeland and welcomes visits from fellow gardeners.

The “surgical method of planting” is a combination of no-till methodology and Three Sisters planting approach.   In Dion’s homeland, holes are dug in the ground in the midst of the residue of crops and weeds from the previous season and seeds are inserted.  The area around each hole remains untilled.  Dion explained that in the Philippines this methodology is employed because of a lack of large farm animals to do the tilling, in this case the caribou or water buffalo.  However, this methodology will definitely find support amongst the no-till advocates who believe that tilling the soil causes soil erosion and compression, destroys soil organisms vital to the health of the soil, and  helps to return natural nutrients to the land by leaving crop residues from the previous year in place to decompose naturally.  (For an overview of the benefits of the no-till methodology see

In addition Dion employs a variation of the Three Sisters method of companion planting.  He has planted corn, watermelon and tomatoes.  The Three Sisters has Native American roots and consists of inter-planting corn, beans and squash in close proximity to provide mutual benefits.  The corn provides the climbing structure for the beans, the beans supply nitrogen to the soil and the squash acts as a mulch, preventing the sun from drying out the soil and preventing weeds.   The prickliness of the vines can also deter some pests.

Feel free to visit with Dion at his site to see the results of his labors.  A sign marks his plot.  Check out some photos from his labors below.

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Now’s Your Last Chance to Keep Great Organic Materials for Your Garden!

The Fall leaf drop has begun in earnest, in fact, here in Ewing it is practically done.  This is your last chance to keep this wonderful organic matter to build better garden soil in your garden.  Don’t put your leaves out at the curb for the township to pick up.  Your best move is to keep them for your garden.  Bring out your mulching mower and chop them up.

  • Option 1 – Put them in your beds to protect your plants from the weather and frost heaves during the winter.
  • Or, try option 2 – put them in  your compost bin.  They will decompose beautifully by spring.
  • Option 3 – Mow them into the lawn to create a healthier, more vibrant lawn (see video below).
  • Option 4 – build a new, no dig lasagna garden.  Place newspapers, cardboard down where you want to create a new garden bed.  Cover (deeply) with your chopped leaves.  Make sure they are wet to hold them in place initially.  By spring, you will have a new garden spot all ready to plant. No digging required for bed preparation at all.

Check out the following video to see how easy it is to chop up your leaves.

See also on our Green Team site for more information.