ABOUT ME

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Why supporting others to learn no dig is so important to me

During my years of practice I’ve noticed a lot of wonderful things about no dig. And something that gives me great pleasure is hearing about your gardening successes. 

I started experimenting with no dig back in 1982. I had an innate sense that it was the right thing to do. The results I achieved from initial trials gave me encouragement to keep going. I was continually finding that no dig is great for producing wonderful harvests of healthy food. It’s good for the ecosystem and it’s great for our health too. 

Now I want as many other people to experience the same joy and benefits that I have.

“I am simply mesmerised by your teaching and your belief in Nature. I am now loaded with many books of yours, calendar and courses. I am very very much enjoying it and today I’ll pick the first lettuce leaves for lunch.”

Melita, April 2020

The values that inspired me to start no dig

By 1979, I was thinking about nutrition and food production. I had recently become a vegetarian and that led me to explore organic gardening. At that time both vegetarian diets and organic growing were rare. It was a revolutionary way of thinking about eating and food production! 

I had come across Ruth Stout’s No-Work Garden Book. Her wisdom reinforced my instincts towards no dig. I also found out about F. C. King, a gardener who had practised no dig since the 1940s. There was already a history of no dig methods when I started out. Gardeners like Ruth Stout, F. C. King, Arthur Guest and Shewell Cooper had led the way. Yet no dig had not received much attention in the gardening world.

Carbon, no dig & healthy soil

From the start, I was keen to respect the life of the soil. Through my experience, I’ve become more and more aware of how soil works, through not working it! I’ve increased my understanding of biodiversity and the need to keep carbon in the soil. Digging, and any form of soil exposure, releases CO2 into the atmosphere. No dig keeps carbon locked in the soil, and carbon in many forms is the building block of soil structure and food. I want to share this message far and wide. My no dig work is contributing to the science of ecology. Since 2021 I’ve been working with a scientist and geologist to analyse the soil in my gardens. We are measuring the biology and chemical differences between no dig and dig beds.

The results of no dig in my gardens

I’ve seen for myself how effective no dig can be at Homeacres and Lower Farm. I run a working market garden that produces consistent crops throughout the seasons. I achieve this with a low amount of time and effort, and the produce is strong and healthy. I’ve recently introduced three beehives and created a pond to add to the biodiversity of my gardens. And I’ve been really happy to share all this progress with my followers online.

Homeacres no dig drone view 30th April
Drone view of Homeacres on 30th April, 2022

Reaching a wider audience through videos & teaching

It’s become my life’s work to make no dig widely understood and practised. I’ve written many books, contributed to publications and spoken to audiences at home and abroad. In 2013 I began publishing videos from Homeacres. It’s been amazing to see how my audience has grown and become increasingly receptive both to no dig and to my demonstrations of simpler methods such as reducing crop rotation. By 2022 my YouTube channel had attracted over half a million subscribers and 50 million views. I get wonderful feedback and make great connections. My followers on Instagram now number well over 300,000. 

I’ve continued to expand and update the online courses I offer. I want to make sure that more people can access affordable learning about no dig.

I’m so proud that more and more people are hearing the message. We need no dig and clearer understandings, now more than ever. The method is good for the environment and the climate. It’s simple to understand and practice. It leads to great life experiences. And spending time outdoors with nature is great for our mental and physical health.

TV & books

In 1988 the producer of Gardeners’ World hopped over my fence (literally). They filmed in August meaning I spent two wonderful days with Geoff Hamilton in the garden. Then my work began to receive more attention. 

11a. By 1988 my methods were being noticed and I hosted the BBC’s Gardeners World TV show for two days, with Geoff Hamilton second left
Being filmed for BBC Gardeners World with Geoff Hamilton (second on the left), August 1988

At the time it seemed remarkable to other gardeners that I was growing crops without fertilisers. That programme focussed on moving to organic growing. And in 2016 Gardeners’ World came back to talk about my no dig methods.

BBC Gardeners World at Homeacres in 2016, filming me fill a no dig bed; my son Edward is on the left

I started writing about vegetable growing in 2006 and, as well as writing books, I’ve written for many publications, including Gardeners World, Kitchen Garden, Country Smallholding, Permaculture, Grow Your Own, Which? Gardening, The Daily Telegraph, and RHS The Garden.

I continue to write and have more titles coming out soon. Upcoming releases include Charles Dowding’s No Dig from publishers DK. I’ve also recently published Skills For Growing, plus an audiobook of No Dig Gardening – From weeds to vegetables, easily and quickly. 

The No Dig Cookbook: Recipes from Homeacres written by Catherine Balaam is due out in late 2022.

Supporting you

I’ve achieved so much in my own gardens and always come back to the desire to teach. For me, the most important part of my work is to spread my knowledge. I love to support others to grow their own food in easy and effective ways.

I hope you’ll find the same tremendous joy and harvests.

With multisown turnips, Tokyo Cross F1 (photo Alessandro Vitale)

 

You can read more about the history of no dig pioneers here.

See my blog posts for what’s going on at Homeacres this season.