Charles Dowding’s life, and his story of no dig

Charles Dowding no dig garden
Charles at Homeacres July 2018, photo Stephanie Hafferty

“When I get conflicting information, I always go to the real answer from Mr. Dowding. Your books and information have been a huge inspiration in my life. Thank you. We are in the third year of building a huge garden using many of your methods.” (Midsummer night, comment on You Tube 07/18)

I develop timesaving methods of organic, and especially no dig gardening. I share with you the reader and viewer, methods I discover for quicker, more efficient gardening. No dig is the main one, also I trial and publicise new ways of growing, picking, marketing salad leaves, and of multi-sowing vegetables.

Since 1982 I have created and cropped four no dig market gardens on different soils: stony, silt, white and ordinary clay. In the 1980s my garden covered 7.5 acres (3ha) of no dig beds and was less intensive than now. The growing methods are as applicable for small areas as large ones.

Currently I crop intensively 0.33 acres/1300 square metres in Somerset, SW England, for local sales of salad leaves and vegetables.

Other strings to my bow are writing – 11 books and two more soon, articles for national gardening magazines, and regular uploads of videos to my You Tube channel. Plus I give talks and courses at home and abroad.

Background story

I grew up on a dairy farm in Somerset, with no interest in cows. Fortunately I was encouraged by my parents to look elsewhere for a career. Yet after graduating from Cambridge University with a geography degree in 1980, I felt a pull back to the land, exactly what my father had not wanted.

Why so? I had become interested in nutrition at Cambridge, and became a vegetarian too when that was decidedly an odd path to follow. My increasing desire to grow healthy food was fuelled by worries about the declining nutritional content of food, and rising residues of toxic chemicals. I lived in the farming world and saw the trends.

I joined the Soil Association, had my leg pulled by friends and responded to an advert for a job in Scotland’s Hebridean islands, where I arrived in March 1981. After a year of maintenance work and gardening at the Argyll Hotel on Iona in the Inner Hebrides, where home grown organic vegetables were an important part of the menu (and still are, wind permitting), I decided to have a go at commercial organic vegetable growing in an old orchard on the farm.

First market garden 1982-90

This was a marginal thing to do in the early eighties when farmers were still being encouraged towards quantity more than quality, with memories of war-time food shortages still prominent. Consideration of the environment was minimal, and few people were keen to buy organic food. Yet it felt the right thing to do, I saw the connection between soil health, plant health and human well being.

Early results from the acre and a half of organic beds were encouraging. My mother was worried about who would buy all the vegetables but, strangely enough, there was always a telephone call when crops were ready (she kindly answered them!). Also in 1983 I started a box scheme, perhaps the first in the country, just six boxes in that first year.

Over the next eight years I kept taking in more land and built up a large market garden, selling both locally in boxes and through a market stall, as well as to shops in Bristol, Bath and London. Every March I was joined by three or four apprentices, until the autumn. For a while I was member of a cooperative of growers, selling to supermarkets, until their demands made it impossible to continue.

My land was no dig, after the initial rotovating to create clean soil: at that time I knew no other way. But I was happy to be no dig, although the quality I mentioned most was organic.

Charles Dowding greenhouse no dig
In 1988 I bought a second hand greenhouse to expand the cropping range, Bill fits the final glass

A small farm in France 1992-97

However I had slogged myself to a standstill, contracted type 1 diabetes and by 1990 was ready for new adventures. I had kept the diabetes at bay for a year in 1990 but needed to make small injections of insulin by December. Everything was changing: my father had died and left an inheritance, so I found a couple to run the holding from 1991, until their first baby and they stopped in 1993.

One thing led to another and in 1992 I spent the spring creating a market garden in deepest rural Zambia, until I was accused by the district commissioner of emerald smuggling, and had to leave. I was allowed into Kenya and checked out an organic farm-school in Kitale, however I was homesick, and contracted malaria too.

This persuaded me that Europe was home and with my prospective wife Susie, we found a 40 acre Gascon farm (SW France) of terrible soil in 1992, from where we married. Soon we started a family too.

The soil was white clay, known locally as boulbene and spurned by local farmers. They found it funny that gullible English people had bought this unproductive farm, but they expressed gratitude that we were not Parisians.. Meanwhile the difficult soil responded well to my no dig approach, and there was surprise every week at the Astaffort market when I appeared with lovely vegetables.

We ran a largely self sufficient smallholding, including vines which we turned into wine at the farm, and the vegetables we sold in the local market at Astaffort. Two children and five years later we decided to return to Somerset and a new chapter began, initially with the birth of another son, on my birthday. This was Edward!

Back in Somerset at Lower Farm 1998-2012

I restored some of the barns at Lower Farm while training as a kinesiologist. This seemed to be going well until, just after the last exam, I was told off for having dirty fingernails, not good when treating people.However with new findings on the value of soil microbes, I think there was healing potential there!

Always the soil kept pulling me. An abundance of my vegetables led to selling a few boxes again by 2000. Lower Farm is clay soil and one of the quarter-acre plots had been compacted by heavy machinery, before I converted it to no dig vegetables (photo right below). I spread just 4cm/1.5in compost on top of the sticky, hard clay and, it took a year of poor crops for the soil to recover, but improvement was steady. Such that in year two the parsnip harvest was impressive, both in length and size.

A new possibility

One evening in March 2003 I was encouraged by a local retailer, Phil Butler of Bill the Butcher in Bruton (now Spar), to grow and sell salad bags. These sold so well, initially in his shop and then to other local shops and pubs as well, that they became the main output from a garden which grew to an acre (4000sq.m) of permanent raised beds, mingled with a fair number of fruit trees. 

I was on a fascinating, beautiful and tasty voyage of discovery to grow all the best salad plants for every season. My customers enjoyed salad bags containing ten or even twenty different leaves at any one time, constantly varying as temperature and daylight levels rose and fell. I also developed new and reliable ways of continually cropping lettuce and other salad plants, using the #charlesdowdingmethod.

Homeacres 2012-

Then came a huge change in the wet year of 2012: I separated from Susie and was lucky to find a new potential garden at Homeacres, six miles from Lower Farm. I had much help in the first steps at Homeeacres from my partner Steph who is a kitchen gardener and cook, with great knowledge of and skills for preparing food.

There was a rapid creation and evolution of Homeacres garden, transformed in six months from weedy wilderness to productive plot, without turning a sod. This amazed many visitors. See the monthly series of updates for snapshots of this process, starting with my first beds in December 2012.

I had intended Homeacres as a teaching and writing garden, however with prompting from Steph, quite a few salad went into some new beds in the cold spring of 2013. From late April of the very first year I was already selling some salad and vegetables. At my various Open Days, hundreds of visitors have delighted in the smart abundance of Homeacres garden, and its many flowers and fruit trees  too.


In 2013 I had the idea to create a video about the transformation at Homeacres, from weedy field to productive garden, all in just nine months. I had no idea whether this would be much noticed but my You Tube channel, from a slow start, has become a significant part of what I do here. The videos are a wonderful way to reach millions of people around the world. My most popular video, No dig with Charles Dowding, showing his fourth summer at Homeacres, has over 5 million views. Made in 2016, it has enduring popularity.

For a summary of starting no dig, see this video of 2020.

Elizabeth White from Louisiana, by email 19/06/18

Thank you so much for your books and teachings and videos. I am just delighted with the way my garden looks and grows with the finished compost on top. Much to my extraordinary surprise, I’ve only had a very very few little baby weeds. Not enough even to count each week, so Thank You!!!

With my son Edward we also made a series of videos about gardening on a smaller scale than my main garden, starting with Small Garden (1), based on the plot below. It is 25sq.m and has 10-12 different vegetables growing from April to November: this video shows it in December. You can also see how much my plans change through the year.

  • A plan is good, just as your starting point.
Charles Dowding no dig garden
Small garden July 2018, covers removed for photo are over leeks against leek moth & beet plus lettuce leaves against sparrows

Talks, articles

Increasing interest in my gardens and methods have led to many articles for various magazines and lectures, including one to the RHS in Tokyo. I find that talks are a fantastic way to inform people and give clear understandings, with a chance to answer questions and chat afterwards too.

The Bleddfa Centre Newsletter, SE Wales January 2018

Our sold Out ‘No Dig’ Event was a Huge Success!

2018 got off to a fantastic start; last week when Charles Dowding gave a friendly, informative and inspirational ‘No Dig’ talk, which saw Hall Barn absolutely packed to full capacity!  The feedback from attendees was excellent, including “Fantastic talk and exceptional food, well worth the 2 and a half hour drive” and “Beyond expectations!“.

A warm and heartfelt thank you to Charles for making the trip to Bleddfa, and thank you to the guests for coming along to be inspired by Charles and to share some supper together. We look forward to hearing how your gardening is progressing, and we hope to run similar events in the future. 


My first book on vegetable growing appeared in March 2007, and a second one on salad leaves in spring 2008.

These two books have sold over 50,000 copies, and have received encouraging reviews, and they are being updated all the time. My third book was Winter Vegetables published spring 2011 by Green Books, followed by The Vegetable Course Book for Frances Lincoln. This work, published in 2012, has more detail on starting out: mulching and improving soil, clearing weeds, and has a closer look at the virtues of no dig. I followed it in February 2014 with Charles Dowding’s Veg Journal in a month-by-month format (Frances Lincoln).

From Carrie on forum topic 14/07/18

To Charles and his wonderful advice… first growing season following your books and I am now reaping the benefits. 1 year ago my plot was 6 foot high in all manner of weeds but yet I conquered and am feeding the family throughout the season with much more to come!

In March 2014 Green Books published Gardening Myths and Misconceptions which tackles some of the misguided and contradictory advice common in the world of gardening. Its remit is to save the gardener time, by showing which jobs are unnecessary. Next in 2015, How to Create a New Vegetable Garden came out with Green Books.

By 2016 I was aware of gardeners’ needs to know more about timings, and had the idea to self publish a Diary, which is also a manual of essential advice and timings for successful growing. It is selling steadily from this site, in shops and on Amazon, is exported to Chelsea Green in the USA, while the process of self publishing has been a steep learning curve for me. The Diary is currently in third edition 2019.

I have just bought your vegetable garden diary, and all I can say is wow, so inspiring, and full of detailed information, brilliant. I wish I had bought it years ago!!

I have made a couple of nice raised beds that are now productive, more to follow, now I have a decent compost heap that is rotting down behind the peas and beans!!

Thanks again for all your positive comments, you are a real inspiration! (Philip Hirst, Ireland email, 23.07.18)

April 2017 saw publication of No Dig Organic Home and Garden (Permanent), written by Steph and myself. Sales have been phenomenal. The book is a two-in-one, with 90000 words describing the whole process of producing, picking, storing and eating your food. Plus there are tips on potions, flowers, sourdough bread and more.

Charles Dowding Stephanie Hafferty book no dig
We just took delivery of the first 1,000 books, April 2017, sold by Christmas

RHS review The Garden p.93 November 2017, by Jim Buckland of West Dean Gardens, Sussex

Although I have been gardening professionally for 45 years, I found this book enlightening, thought provoking and immensely practical in equal measure. I am confident that if this were the first volume to grace the shelves of a gardening novice, it would be equally stimulating and useful, and would ensure a smooth start to a growing life. It does exactly what the title suggests it will do, and does it with clarity, humour and immense practicality.

Despite being an enthusiast for his take on growing practice, he is not a fanatical ideologue but a true empiricist. His arguments are based on the outcome of years of rigorously recorded experimentation and observation, forming the foundation for all of his recommendations. Charles is a man driven by a desire to find the most effective and environmentally benign method of producing as much food from a small area as is feasible. He then converts it to good domestic use with the able assistance of his partner and co-author Stephanie Hafferty.

Since then I have self published two more books, and continue to write and publish the annual Calendar of sowing dates. There is huge interest in both no dig, and in being more successful at growing vegetables and the latter reason is why I wrote and published Skills for Growing in 2022. This is available both as a book and an online course, do have a look in the webshop.

The three online courses have become a big feature of my work. They are a fantastic way to explain in some detail, the methods I recommend. I can illustrate both with words and videos, together with a lot of photos often in sequence and with explanatory captions.

Reaching out

I am often consulted for advice on creating, maintaining and improving vegetable gardens and allotments. The many talks which I give to gardening clubs, fund raising events, community meetings, allotment societies and literary festivals are received with enthusiasm. See the Events page for details. I can open your mind to new possibilities, and the photographs of my gardens show the beauty you can create with vegetable growing.

53 thoughts on “Charles Dowding’s life, and his story of no dig

  1. Hello Charles
    I don’t know if I’m repeating myself, but if I am I apologize. I have been gardening for about 45 years, and every year for the first 40 years I have been digging up my garden and putting the plants in that I bought from the garden center. Since I found your channel through “ One Yard Revolution “ 5 years ago, I have learned about Composting, and saving my own seeds. Besides saving my back with using the no dig method , I have saved a substantial amount of money. Right now I’m 77 years old, and I think without your method of gardening I probably would have cut my gardens from nine to just one. Besides adding more time in my gardens I am getting a lot more enjoyment, with everything I’m planting. I am even growing more because I have learned about 2nd plantings, that I never thought about before, and my daughters and their friends seem to come over more frequently, to reap the benefits of my garden.
    Thank you my friend
    John from across the pond.
    P.S. I just received your new book Skills for Growing and looking forward to see what more I can learn.

    1. Thank you John for sharing your heartwarming gardening story. Lovely that you see more of the next generation. We need this in a national newspaper, joyfulness, hope, and possibilities 💚

      1. Hi Charles,
        Just wondering if ….
        Brambles and ivy could be composed, imagining one would need to chop the brambles first if adding.
        You are a HUGE inspiration…Thank you.

        Emmy. Anglesey

        1. Thanks Emmy, and yes for sure, chopped.
          We use a rotary lawnmower to run over the top and cut them into small pieces. Brambles actually make really nice compost when mixed with some grass and other greens.

  2. Hi Charles, I’m about to start a garden in a location you will be familiar with – on a windswept coastal spot on the NW of Mull but am a bit stuck at the planning stage.
    I’m wondering what is sensible to focus on in such an exposed high rainfall spot, in it’s favour the soil is very good and I have access to seaweed and well-rotted cattle/straw manure. A couple of very small beds this year did well, except the potatoes. Myself and my neighbours ½ mile away both had blight strike apparently vigorous plants, makes you think about people who were totally dependent on these crops!
    Any advice specific to the conditions here would be very welcome as I decide what to begin my gardening adventure with. Thanks anyway for producing such useful inspiring books.

    1. Very nice to hear from you Kirsty and yes I am quite familiar with your location! And the wind. I remember how the Brussels sprouts struggled on Iona.

      Assuming you do not have a windbreak but are in a spot which is not too exposed, peas and broad beans grow well, partly because you have such good light levels in late spring when they are growing strongly. All brassicas are good, especially low growing ones including cabbage and neeps for sure. For potatoes I would grow first or second earlies, not maincrop.
      Enjoy the books.

  3. Charles. You are my total inspiration. Through the gardening failures I have had for 30 years, I now have a way forward. I can even hear you when I’m in the garden ” you can remove that leaf because it is doing no good to the plant”, simply because they are such wise words!

  4. Hi Charles, have enjoyed many of your videos and have become an avid gardener here in New Zealand. Fortunately in zone 10b. I purchase much of the compost for my roughly 16m2 of raised beds however also have a couple of compost bins which capture all of our kitchen and garden waste plus a bit of excess clean cardboard. I’ve refrained from adding our grass waste due to invasive grasses we have. Given im not yet running a hot compost would I be mad to add my anaerobic compost which will have contained some rust and mildew plant waste in the past? And, if I’m able to get a compost of enough size to become a hot compost how and would you recommend including my existing compost? I grow a wide variety of allium, brassica, tomato and much more. Many thanks, keep up the good work clearly enjoyed by so many.

    1. Cheers David, sounds good.
      I would add your grass to the existing heaps because it will not survive a composting process, even if it is not hot.
      Although adding grass does increase heat a lot.
      I would not add already-made compost to a compost heap, would prefer to spread that on the ground

  5. Goodafternoon me dowding in the events of your garden being at a gradient of10%. Do you think it necessary to build raise bed (thinking of using concret blocks/bricks as edges because of high life expectancy) to level off surface, s to prevent compost mulch from washing away when it rains

      1. I think that Charles advises to not use bricks in a wet climate because they harbor slugs. Also if your beds are rather high (șore than 15 cm) compared to the path, then without other edges you will find that the edges of your beds dry out and the growth of your veggies on the edge is less exhuberant. Wishing you great fun with your garden and then method, I have to say we are having great crops of salad leaves here in Germany with it.

  6. Hello Charles,

    I am enthralled with all things ‘Charles Dowding’ & while watching one of your videos was gobsmacked to realize I have your salad book on the shelf!

    I was introduced to your no dig video by seeing Shaye Elliot’s endorsement on her FB page & blog/video/website TheElliot Homestead .

    Absolutely thrilled to try this method and may have persuaded a neighbor to use ‘No Dig’ method to combat weeds which ruin their garden each year.

    Consider me a fan!
    Chandra from Louisiana (zone 9B)

    I am building a ‘No Dig’ bed and started by using my glorious compost.
    My question is, what is your base layer? What do you consider to be ‘soil’ and how do you find, create, buy, build…this, the base or foundation layer?
    Thankfully, the compost was to just one end of the raised bed and I will be having to purchase ‘soil’ from garden center, then will add my beautiful compost to the top, as your method instructs.
    So glad I caught that just in time as compost is long time to produce from just two of us having kitchen scraps, tree leaf & grass clippings.
    We have marvelous worms and many meal worms that appear from seemingly nowhere.
    My compost was neglected last year and the root system from ??? maybe nearby oak trees makes harvesting the compost a challenge. I sieved all that went into the raised bed because of such massive bunch of tiny root systems, but mostly to remove acorns. They sprout everywhere and love the compost. I lost much volume by tossing the roots.
    Should I leave the fibrous roots and just pick out the acorns?

    1. Hi Chandra
      Thanks for your message, nice story, and I like that you value your compost so highly!
      Here we do have access to facilities where they make compost is so we can buy it. The quality is much lower than home-made compost but it’s a good starting point.
      I do not value purchased soil as an ingredient for beds, because often it is dead and of variable quality too. However if it’s your only option, then it is your base layer, and keep your precious compost for the surface.

      1. Charles,
        Thank you so much for the reply; so glad I checked back!
        Still harvesting compost from one neglected heap/bin, so only minimal bags of ‘soil’ purchased.

  7. Hello me dowdling I enjoy your video and in the process of purchasing a few books.i live in the caribbean and there is only rain and sun here ,no winter , no fall. Will I be able to still use your method with our seasons being so different

    1. Hi Melo, yes that sounds very different but I see no reason why this method should not work. Just you will be using different materials on the surface, maybe not perfect compost! I have good reports from places like the Philippines where it is tropical climate.

  8. Charles;
    I live in zone 8B latitude around 32. You garden in zone 8A latitude 51.
    Does the difference in latitude effect our zone 8A and 8B.
    Here in Central Mississippi We get a lot of rain and I have clay soil.
    I garden a quarter acre of raised beds for vegetables and many types of fruit.
    I enjoy your YouTube series. Ladd

    1. Hi Ladd, and yes what a difference in latitude! Your son is much stronger than here, probably your rainfall is more intense, your summers are hotter!
      The reason we have the same zone is first and last frost dates. So more differences than similarity!

  9. Charles I am a total beginner to growing my own vegetables and have just taken on an allotment. I spend my evenings watching your videos and feel so inspired by them. At 42 I have discovered an exciting hobby which in these difficult times has been so beneficial to my mental health. Thank you so much for every piece of advice , you really are an inspiration.

    1. Lovely to read this Gavin. You will find that a challenge, growing is not easy at first especially on a big space! I am happy to be encouraging you.

  10. Hi Charles,

    I’ve been devouring your videos and about to buy your course to educate myself before I start my first veg patch coming spring. I’m in Connecticut, US (zone 5b). Is there a way to map your book and teachings or is there any easy to reference table that will help me translate your advice to my zone? I find the timing aspect quite daunting.


    1. Thanks, and yes your timings are different.
      Fear not, you have help in folk such as Eliot Coleman of Four Season Farm – his book about Winter Veg is a classic and has timings.

      1. I have your brilliant videos and just purchased your diary to help me along the way. Please keep the excellent advice coming and thank you!

  11. Hi Charles,
    Have been watching quite a few of your videos and have just purchased your Organic Gardening book, looks great. Am thinking of making a 4ft x 10ft bed and wondering whether your method can be combined with square foot gardening. Is this possible or is it too intensive and would it exhaust the soil.? Am thinking that because the crops are so close together it might not be possible to have follow on plantings throughout the year.
    Thanks in anticipation.

    1. Hi Gail and this is nice to read.
      Yes you can crop no dig beds, super intensively. Actually better than beds filled with the ‘square foot recipe’ which includes non-fertile vermiculite and peat.
      The photos in my Trials post illustrate this.

  12. Hello Charles, I have no expectations of hearing back from you. I live in central NH, USA. I subscribe to your gardening methods and beliefs. Unfortunately yours growing zone and mine are quite different. I would love to come to your garden. Is that possible. Better yet, you can come to mine. I would so love to pick your brain about gardening. Thank you for your consideration. My best to you.

    1. Hello Wilma and thanks for your message, sorry your climate is so different.
      Travel is not getting easier for a fair while, let’s hope for possibilities one day. For my part, time is limited.

  13. Dear Charles,
    You have been a great inspiration these last couple of years as I have taken the plunge and started practicing your no dig /compost mulch method on our dry, stony land on an island in Greece ( southern Aegean ). Producing food was always such an effort on this poor soil, the compost and manure just seemed to disappear and plants struggled against a seemingly unstoppable invasion of weeds!
    Second season, starting off the winter crops, which include lettuce, spinach ,carrots, cauliflower etc. things are looking positive,
    Thank you for sharing all your knowledge and wisdom. Your videos are an absolute pleasure to watch.
    Kind regards,
    Hugh Cave

    1. Hello Hugh and thanks for sharing this experience.
      I am happy you have found this easier way to grow, and imagine some decent growth in your winter, maritime climate.

  14. Dear Charles

    I came to listen to you talk at Bleddfa and got very excited by what you do. I realise that I have been drifting towards no-dig without realising – who wouldn’t as we get older! However I was still doing things like turning the soil to ‘incorporate’ green manures. No more!

    I have discovered your youtube videos recently and am devouring them at least one a day! I found them when I was trying to find out about radicchio growing. The organic supplier of seeds, Dobies, had mis-labelled packets of seed, or so they said, but I was convinced I was growing green chicory and was annoyed as I hadn’t wan’t to go to the trouble of blanching. However watching your video on radicchio I realise that is exactly what I am growing, what to see as it is growing and how to harvest to reveal those lovely red centres. Thank you as the lot nearly went on the compost heap!


    1. Thanks Wendy and yes I do hear about Ben, am impressed!
      Soil type is good to know but not as important as good mulching.
      Annual dose of new compost is an inch, once it has settled (looks more when applied).

  16. I enjoyed reading about your background I lived many years in south Devon, before getting married and emigrating. I love to watch your YouTube videos, you have such a charming quiet way of explaining what and how you manage your land you make it easy listening. Today I watched the roasting of old potatoes and other veggies, when it came out of the oven it looked really yummy. Your book which arrived earlier this year I find I can adapt to match seasons here in Tasmania, it will be so useful as I try to grow some produce in pots and Small raised beds. I am so glad I tried out YouTube and found your videos. Thank you

    1. Many thanks Avril. It must be fascinating comparing Tasmanian soil, climate and life to Devon.

    2. Goodmorning Mr dowding I am amazed by your garden an vast knowledge but there 2 questions I haven’t seen anyone ask,maybe I havent seen them but is it necessary to make sides for beds and is it ok to use saw dust from wood that’s been treated for foot path if garden

      1. Thanks, and I would not use sawdust from treated wood. And see my video about bed edges published last December, your answers are there

  17. Hi Charles,
    Fascinating – it is very interesting to read your story and lovely to see the images of you sorting and working the garden with your children too.

    We’re converting a 1 acre plot, heavily landscaped by the previous owners. The garden is chock full of plants that flower in shade or have pretty colours, but are vigorous (e.g. ornamental grasses), poisonous to humans and wildlife (e.g. lily of the valley) or a combination of the two (e.g. euphorbias self seeding everywhere). Small seedlings to much more established, big woody shrubs. We’ve found dead rabbits on more than one occasion.

    You mention that in your first no dig garden, you tilled before converting over – I wonder if you would advocate disturbing the soil prior to laying down cardboard in a situation such as I’ve described? We want to move the whole space over to edibles, following your principles closely for new annual beds and the perennial areas too, but I am concerned about leaving such things in the ground.
    I have a vision for a garden where if its here, you can eat it, but we have alot of work to do to get there.

    Either way, thanks for doing what you do and being so giving with your experience.

    1. Hello Matt and many thanks.
      That sounds wild in an unfriendly way so yes, tilling in your situation is an option, and would save time for constructive jobs.
      I wish you success with the project.
      An acre is a lot so after tilling, some land could be reseeded say with clovers etc, while awaiting your attention.

      1. Hi Charles,

        Apologies for such a delay – I didn’t anticipate your replying so promptly. Thank you so much! We’re taking this on slowly, but everywhere we look to create a new bed for food, there is something toxic or alot of shade. We’d rather leave the trees alone where we can which means dealing with the toxic ornamentals.

        Even so, cover cropping with clover and vetch is the plan, but I cannot find a way forward without digging out much of what is here. Its great to hear that you would endorse the approach where its best. Its surprising, there is alot of information about building a garden on grass or at farm scale, but I’ve yet to find a good resource for the garden in between – fairly sizeable and landscaped…

        I just watched your video on meshes and coverings as, we are inundated with rabbits too. Thank you again Charles – you are providing a fantastic resource here and via your YouTube channel.

  18. Charles, Your No Dig/composting methods, and your love of vegetables and the soil, are truly inspiring. I aim to establish a raised bed garden and follow your methods. I look at many time and again. Approaching second summer with my no-dig garden in North Carolina, zone 8. Thank you for your videos and books!

  19. Hello Charles,
    I’m in Oregon right now but my dream is to share a goat farm in the south of France with friends and grow all kinds of lettuces and some vegetables on rotation using your no-dig method. I felt challenged by the prospect of such rocky soil, but your essays have given me hope.

    1. Hello Kristin and I am happy to have given some help to you manifesting what sounds a great project.
      I wish you all well.

  20. Dear Charles,
    I have been vegetable gardening in Victoria – Australia for the past 26 years when I moved here from the UK. I too found Ruth Stout and have used a No-Dig approach to great advantage. I think your comments on Slugs and mulches are very true and I abandoned lucerne and other options for compost 10 years ago and have not looked back – no more or very few slugs. I have also used Soil Blocks for propagation for the past 10 years and they have allowed me to produce thousands of seedlings for various community groups in a couple of pop up mini green houses. Watching you fill your commercial cells so quickly however has drawn me back to plastic! I also think that leafy greens do not like the compacted soil block environment. I am still testing my theory.

    Thank you so much for sharing your extensive knowledge – I learning a lot and your sensible, tried and tested approach is very appealing. I would very much like to see your calendar translated into a southern hemisphere model – have you considered doing this? Melbourne is Temperate with occasional light frost. Tomatoes for example go in the ground first week in November are largely finished mid March except for a few cherries – capsicums are green turning red, and eggplants are on the way out. Our salad greens suffer through our long dry summer but I am picking some lovely leaves now ( March 25th) planted as seedlings late Feb.
    Not sure how the calendar would be produced but I know that there is a market for such a tool.
    I have a plot at the Nunawading Community Gardens and a kitchen garden/fruit orchard at home. I am involved in the Urban Harvest movement and have developed vegetable gardens at a number of housing communities.

    Thank you again for your videos
    Alison Sizer

    1. Hello Alison
      Thanks so much for writing and this is all fascinating, including about lucerne, slugs and blocks.
      Yes it’s about time.
      However still more to discover on that.
      On the calendar, you are not the first to ask, perhaps I need a S hemisphere distributor, shall make enquiries.
      Keep up your great work

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