Charles Dowding is the king of no-dig gardening. His 30 years experience has given him a successful market garden without the use of any machinery.
Our editor, Maddy Harland, visited Charles at the end of 2014 in his new home and found an abundant edible garden that had been created in less than a year. This beautiful fruit and vegetable garden was previously pasture but with three months under manure and a little cardboard, it was ready to plant, and is now overflowing with edibles (see her article in PM79).
Charles Dowding's Veg Journal is similar to his previous book, Organic Gardening: The Natural No-Dig Way, but is aimed more at beginners. No-dig gardening can be quite daunting when you begin. It seems impossible that your vegetable beds can be weed-free year round without digging them out, so to have this monthly guide is hugely beneficial.
Charles begins with the basics, the tools you will need, the general principles of no-dig and how it creates a healthy soil. He follows with an easy to read monthly guide. Each month has a section to make notes, helping you learn for following years (great if you're new to growing). There is a list of jobs for that month, and what you should be sowing, planting and harvesting.
There are long lists of vegetables to consider growing, and even a section on companion planting. This is very useful as integrating beneficial plants can be difficult if you're just starting out and is the best way to make the most of your space.
Charles also provides a guide showing the ideal temperatures for starting some seeds. This is the best way to learn about sowing conditions, as with the changeable seasons, we can no longer rely on the usual monthly calendar.
With advice on composting, mulching, watering and storing, this is a fantastic book for anyone wanting a little guidance on their no-dig vegetable journey.
Its hardback cover even makes sure it is durable against the weather, making sure you can be growing all year round!
Rozie Apps is a keen no-dig allotment gardener and assistant editor at Permaculture magazine.
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