Online Course 1 – No Dig Gardening – Now available to buy in 6 separate modules.
We are pleased to offer the first online course divided into six parts, to purchase individually. You can buy one at a time, or just one altogether, to pay and learn in stages.
The lessons are grouped together in modules highlighting a different topic for each module. We recommend starting at module one and working your way through however if you have a particular area of interest then you can always jump in with your preferred module. Each lesson has a quiz at the end to help consolidate your learning.
This module consists of an introduction to the course and the first two lessons.
In the introduction, I explain how my course fits together, how to use it, and how it shows you great ways to garden more efficiently and enjoyably.
The history of no dig – always successful – makes one wonder why it has not caught on before in a bigger way. I explain the benefits to soil and gardener in Lessons 1 and 2:
Lesson 1 – The advantages and history of no dig
We start with an overview of the advantages of no dig, and why it’s such an effective method. To help you to understand more about it, I’ve put together a history of no dig practice. It will help you to give you more of an idea of where we are now, and reminds us that there is nothing new under the sun.
Lesson 2 – Simple, time-saving, productive
An overview of the no dig method, and how it enables comprehensive weed clearance at the same time as successional plantings throughout the season. I explain the simplicity and the time-saving benefits, while showing you the results.
In this module, we explore the results of no dig on different soils, and also how it compares to growth in dug soil. We look at results from the side-by-side trials I run, including the dig/no dig comparison beds which I have cropped every year since 2007. I give you my perspectives on the results.
No dig has, until recently, been frowned on by traditional gardeners and institutions. However this is now changing. The process of change shows how it can be good to question accepted beliefs. I encourage you to develop your hunches in order to understand gardening more fully.
Lesson 3 – No dig on different soils, from stone to clay
Whether your soil is clay, stony or sandy, no dig is the best method for being time efficient, holding fertility and giving fine harvests. I show you my first market garden on stony limestone soil from 1982, then two market gardens on clay, before the silt of Homeacres. Plus we look at clay in Kent and sand in Florida.
Lesson 4 – Results of my Two Bed Trial
I add my interpretations to the sometimes dramatic differences you see. These beds reveal a lot about both dig and no dig, with comparisons that are always fascinating, including when differences are small.
Lesson 5 – Results of my Three Strip Trial
This wide-ranging trial compares growth when using different composts, and when soil is loosened by forking. In addition, there is a “no rotation” element, and you see the results of growing leeks and cabbage for four years consecutively in the same soil.
Lesson 6 – The jobs you don’t need to do
One of my favourite topics is gardening myths! They are so numerous, and so obvious when you analyse them, and it’s fun to realise how much time we can save. Understanding how they came about also helps us to understand more about how soil and plants are often explained, and how we can spot more mistakes.
I explain how you might set up a garden, including the benefits and importance of well-maintained paths. You see examples from different parts of Homeacres, and from my previous garden at Lower Farm.
Lesson 7 – Bed width and orientation, with sides or without
You can have beds of any width, and align them in whichever way works best for you in the context of your site. I explain the value of sides to beds in some situations, and the many reasons you may not want them.
Lesson 8 – Pathways to value, and extra harvests
How to clear paths of weeds and keep them weed free, and why this is worthwhile. I explain reasons for having paths of different widths, and how narrow paths without bed sides can increase your cropping.
This is a huge topic and second only to soil, particularly if you have a weedy site when starting out. Appropriate mulching in year one leads you to experience the joy of weed free soil. Not 100% weed free for sure, but highly manageable, and I show you how.
- Identify your main weeds to know better how to mulch, what types of mulch to use, and how to stay weed free all the time.
- Learn the important differences between annual and perennial weeds.
Lesson 9 – Two types of weeds
It helps to name and understand each weed, so you have an idea of how to mulch or remove the mix you may find. In particular, I explain the characteristics and differences of annual and perennial weeds, and how their growth tendencies affect what you need to do in order to achieve clean soil for easy growing.
Lesson 10 – Going weed free with organic mulches
Eliminating perennial weeds is possible with no dig, and here is the how-to, using mulches of organic matter only. When digging out perennial weeds, there are always a few roots that regrow; with no dig, 100% elimination is possible.
Lesson 11 – Going weed free with non-organic mulches
Non-organic mulches – plastic of various kinds – do not look nice, but sometimes have a use in year one, mainly for reducing and eliminating perennial weeds. You can also reuse the same plastic, several times if needed.
I show how to use them in conjunction with organic matter, to improve soil at the same time as clearing weeds and growing a harvest.
Lesson 12 – Staying weed free
You always need to be aware of how weeds can recolonise soil, and react to them when seen, yet no dig takes all the pressure out of this. I explain how weeding can be enjoyable, because there is little of it to do. I share tips on how to stay weed free in this lovely scenario.
These three words have a usage and meaning that varies with context. I give you the definitions that matter for no dig, simpler than often explained.
Soil and compost behave so differently. We look at composts you can buy or source for free, and how to make compost at home.
Lesson 13 – Make your own compost
Homemade compost has abundant life, and I show how to increase the microbes and organisms. Everybody’s heaps and additions are different; once you have a grasp of the principles, you can create a process that works in your space.
Lesson 14 – What is fertility?
Fertility is often equated to nutrients feeding plants, yet true and long-term fertility is about so much more than this. I explain how easy it is to grow great plants when you know surprisingly little about nutrient supply and uptake. Green fingers and a biological approach, rather than calculations and spreadsheets!
Lesson 15 – Comparing soil and compost: a trial
I had a fun comment on Instagram, a “professional horticulturist” who declared that soil and compost are the same thing! I show you how they are not, why they are not and how it helps your gardening when you understand the differences.
Lesson 16 – Types of compost and trial results
The one word “compost” covers so many products and possibilities. Enjoy the tour of different types in this lesson, and the results of growth comparisons from using four of them.
How to create a bed with compost on weeds – you can plant it straight away, then see how everything grows. I explain the cropping plans for this bed through a few seasons, and the harvests too.
I use my small garden of 25m² (269ft2) to show you how, in no dig, plantings can succeed each other through the course of one year. You will learn some vegetable choices and planting methods.
Lesson 17 – Making a bed and five years’ cropping
This is a story of one bed: how we made it in a morning then planted and sowed in the afternoon, and its subsequent growth over the following years. Year five shows possibilities for interplanting. Plus I have used the bed to trial unusual vegetables, so you have a peek at which may be worthwhile, and which may not be.
Lesson 18 – Two years’ cropping plans and harvests
The small garden is 25m2 ( 269ft2); I take you through the details of soil preparation (very little!), spring sowing, planting, edging and harvesting. Then you see the new plantings in summer, meaning that every part of the garden has grown two, or even three vegetables in one year.
Lesson 19 – a video of my talk, and the final quiz
To finish off the course, a one hour video summarises my approach to no dig, and all of its benefits.
The video also looks at aspects of growing, covered in Course 2, Growing Success.