Online Course 1, No Dig Gardening
A practical, online course written by Charles Dowding, world authority no dig gardening with 38 years of experience.
- 18 lessons
- 48,000 words
- 660 photos with detailed captions
- 28 exclusive videos
- Lifetime access
The course is for anyone wishing to learn the no dig method, or to consolidate what they already know. It works for beginners and for experienced gardeners alike, see feedback below.
The lessons are illustrated with tables, diagrams and full colour, captioned photos from Charles’ garden. Each lesson includes at least one video, which is not available on You Tube.
There is a multiple choice quiz at the end of each lesson, for enjoyment and to consolidate learning. These are automatically graded, and easy to ‘Reset’ if an answer is wrong.
The course teaches you important parts of of no dig gardening, including how to:
- Use no dig on different soil types
- Recognise gardening myths which result in time wasted
- Create and look after beds and paths
- Recognise and manage different types of weeds
- Understand and use a range of mulches
- Comprehensive teaching about how to make and use compost
- Cropping plans for a single bed, and a garden, to grow an abundance of vegetables using the no dig method
This page is about Course 1.
See also Course 2 Growing Success for the skills needed to grow wonderful vegetables, created from my lifetime of experience. I give details of timings, planning, growing methods for more harvests in less space, winter gardening, perennial vegetables, seeds and sowing, a lot about spacing, and succession planting.
Both course are available as a voucher.
- Lifetime access allows referring back to dip in at any time, in any part of the course.
- There are no downloadable pdf’s or worksheets.
COURSE 1 No dig gardening
Discover the excellent and time-saving results of no dig, which I explain in this video.
This course is based on my lifetime’s experience of developing the great methods I show. It is centred on no dig, starting right and continuing easily with less time needed.
As well as sharing my methods, I give you the understandings behind them. Then you can adjust successfully to different gardens, weather and life demands.
I show during this course, how no dig makes all gardening more simple and effective. I give many examples of cropping in different beds and areas, including a year’s crop plan for the small garden.
Please scroll down for details of what the course contains and explains.
For buyers in the US, the cost is around $190 depending on current exchange rates.
Feedback on the no dig course
Amelia Vogel, New Mexico
I’m excited for course 2. The first online course was brilliant, I learned a lot, and enjoyed it immensely.
Luke Hardy, Leicester:
Your course has literally set me up for life
Elke Rittenhouse, NY
I’ve enjoyed your first course and learned a lot. You helped me start my garden in New York. I have the beds ready. I’m composting, enjoying every minute of sourcing and feeding the bin. I’m not shy about rummaging through the pick offs from the vegetable aisle at my local grocery store. What I like about your course is that there is no recipe to follow, you offer different ways to start your bed, and I’ve learned to use what is accessible to me and to do what works in my area.
Jerilyn Ingram, Ireland:
I studied the online course, and this was my first year following your methods. I can’t get over the amount of vegetables I have harvested and how healthy and vibrant everything is! Took me 50 years of gardening, but I finally got it right!
Every day brings a ‘lightbulb’ moment!! I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Donna Jones in Wales:
I wasn’t sure about taking your course as I had learned so much from your YouTube channel, books, and a talk you gave at Llandeilo last year. I took it anyway, as I thought If nothing else it would consolidate what I had learned, and was also a way to give back as I appreciate the hard work that goes into all those videos and blog posts etc. However, I got a lot more from the course than anticipated and feel I have a really solid understanding of no dig now.
I am so glad I found your YouTube channel, and for the course. Without no dig I would have really struggled to manage the allotment on my own, given my busy work life, and would probably have given up. That would have been such a great shame as I get so much joy from being there.
I have enjoyed every minute of the course, and looking forward to put in practice all the new knowledge about no-dig.
I’m loving your course! Thanks so much for making this available online! I live in Florida and do no dig gardening on sand and really appreciate your suggestions.
I am really enjoying the online course and gaining a great deal from it.
I was really impressed with the amount of information, pictures and videos you share with us. Yes, I feel really well informed . Now, I know what I’m doing. But what really inspires me, is your love and respect for nature. And there are a few favourite sentences, that have forever found place in my heart: “be brave”, “have fun”, “there is nothing to lose” and “that’s not the end of the world”. Sounds easy, but sometimes I lose it. I will remember this in my life, not only in my garden!
I thank you so much and look forward to the next online-course.
Thank you for this wonderful course. It’s sad that it is already over… but I’m looking forward to the next one. It sounds great!
You approach of no dig gardening makes so much sense. Since I found you on youtube, I adapted it in my garden. My soil is so much nicer, crumbly and healthy, and so are the plants. It’s obviously that the soil is much more able to drain the rain and store the moisture. My earthworm population increased so much that when i want to walk around my garden on a rainy day I have to really watch my steps not to hurt or kill one. Their number and how big they are is just incredible!
Thank you so much to make gardening so much more fun and successful!!!
Beata Wypich, Poland
There was a lot of valuable and new information for me – your course is very good. For beginners in particular, but not only for them.
Clear instructions in simple words, and a few words of advanced knowledge here and there. All those films and charts! Informative and emotional at the same time! I think it is worth it’s price.
Thanks so much for the online course. It is brilliant!
No dig is not complicated – just such a straightforward, easy way of enhancing soil drainage, moisture retention and root health. Evidence that you are on the right lines is given by the exuberant growth, as I show and explain throughout the course. You don’t need expensive apparatus or special kit, nor any fertilisers or feeds.
Anna Mcleish Facebook message 26th February 2019
Two years ago I wrote to the council telling them I wanted to hand in my plot because when I went there I would cry from being overwhelmed by digging and weeds, then I saw your talk in Sussex and said I wanted ‘one last try’. Two years on I am ahead of the game and my allotment is a place of genuine joy and freedom. My three year old knows the difference between a courgette and cucumber, and I hope you realise how much fascinating information you are sharing.
The course will:
- save you time,
- give you great pleasure in gardening,
- improve your soil and garden ecology,
- result in wonderful food to eat.
Such results are possible for any gardener when they follow these methods of caring for their soil and plants.
Clearly explained methods
The basis of good and easy gardening is healthy soil with few weeds, and I show you the steps to take. From clearing weeds without digging, to the routine of maintaining weed free beds, and paths too. I explain how fertility is as much or more about life than about nutrients, and how we can encourage soil organisms to work with us in a lively soil.
All based on experience and results over 38 years of growing.
Some of my teachings are different to commonly held beliefs, and in all cases I explain why, plus how my methods can save you so much time.
All the text is illustrated with photos of my gardens.
From Cathy Marjoram, February 2019:
I was at your talk last week and left feeling…well every emotion really, excited, enthused, relieved and feeling that I was doing lots of things wrong but capable of putting them all right quite easily – vegetables here I come!
How the course works
There are 20 lessons, grouped into seven modules.
Each lesson has one or two videos, text of 2-3,000 words, and 25-50 photos. You can work your way through these at your own pace – there’s no rush and I encourage you to take your time.
I have not set a time frame for each lesson as I notice how everyone learns at a different speed. Sometimes slow is good, there is a lot of information to absorb. Information that empowers.
Course outline, how it works, what you will find.
- Module 1 Introduction to no dig
- Module 2 No dig on different soils, trials results, debunking mythical beliefs
- Module 3 Layout: beds, paths, width, orientation, sides – and all about paths, their value
- Module 4 Weeds: know and understand them, clear them no dig
- Module 5 Soil, compost, fertility: compost types, how to make compost and how best to use it
- Module 6 Making and planting one bed, and the small garden: planting plans for both and crop results
- Module 7 A one hour video of Charles’ gardening, and the final quiz.
One thing I can’t offer is personal support, there are not enough hours in my day for it. You will find a lot of me in the course, answering the questions I am commonly asked, and you can contact me via this website,
Multiple choice quizzes
The questions aren’t designed to catch you out, but are a way to check your understanding and help digest your learning. There’s a final quiz too.
To recognise how much you’ve learnt from the course, you’ll receive a certificate on passing the final quiz. This will show friends, family, employers and yourself what you’ve achieved.
Here’s a brief description of all the modules and lessons. It’s set up on a Sensei plugin and this allows you to dive into any lesson at any time, but I’d recommend working through from the beginning, and taking the quizzes as you go. It’s up to you though! And quizzes can be completed in non-sequential order.
You need 100% correct answers on all 20 quizzes to pass the course. There are 5-15 questions per quiz.
Michael Bebb email 16.01.19
Having amazing results and yields with the no dig approach in Australia, and have also had many beneficial insects and even frogs make an appearance in the garden.
This is my second summer growing my own vegetables and I am presently self sufficient in many kinds.
I introduce the course and explain how it is set up, how to navigate through, get the most understandings, and how to receive your certificate.
Module 1 – Introducing no dig, an overview
The history of no dig, always successful, makes one wonder why it has not caught on before in a bigger way, and I explain the benefits to soil and gardener.
Lesson 1 – Advantages and history of no dig
I outline the advantages of no dig – why it’s such an effective method.
To help understand more about it, I’ve put together a history of recent no dig. It will help you make sense of where we are now, and see that there is nothing new under the sun!
Lesson 2 – Simple, time saving, productive
An overview of no dig, and how it enables weed clearance then successional plantings throughout the season. I explain the simplicity while showing you some results.
Module 2 – Top results for less time needed
In this module we explore how no dig adapts to different soil, and how growth in no dig soil compares to growth in dug and forked soil. We look at results from the side by side trials I run, and I share 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.
Daniel Foster on You Tube, comment to my Myths video 12.02.19:
I have been gardening/growing/advising for nearly forty years and I would wholeheartedly endorse what you say. By coincidence, I also grew an excellent crop of parsnips that season (2016) on ground where I had applied a thick mulch of compost and manure. As you say, the tradition of inventing myths; over-complicating things and making lazy assumptions is also true in other aspects of life. It’s all about disempowering the public, so the “experts” can create an easy role (and career) for themselves. Whereas real experts (like you) actually build peoples’ confidence; encourage them to learn from their own observations and trust in their own instincts.
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 saving time, holding fertility and giving fine harvests. I show you my first market garden on stony limestone soil from 1982, then two 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 say 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. Plus there is a ‘no rotation’ element and you see the results in a video 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 myths! They are so numerous, so obvious when you analyse them and it’s fun to realise how much time we can save.
Module 3 – Laying out beds and paths
I explain how you might set up a garden, including the benefits of well maintained paths. You see examples from different parts of Homeacres and my previous garden at Lower Farm.
Lesson 7 – Bed width and orientation, sides or not
You can have beds of any width and align them in the way that works best for you and your site. I explain the value in some situations of sides to beds, and 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. Reasons for paths of different widths, and how they can increase your cropping.
Jose Velez on YT 22.02.19
I started my garden a year ago and had great results with the no dig method! Have learned much from watching your videos. VERY informative and educational. Love your calm demeanour and easy to understand instructional methods.
Module 4 – Weeds!
This is a huge topic, in particular 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 in year one if there is bindweed and marestail, but easier to manage and I show you how.
Lesson 9 – Two types of weeds
It helps to know your weeds, so you have an idea of how to mulch or remove them. In particular I explain the characteristics and differences of annual and perennial weeds, and how their growth tendencies affect what you need to do.
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.
Lesson 11 – Going weed free with non-organic mulches
Non organic mulches – plastic of various kinds – do not look nice but have a use in year one, for reducing and eliminating perennial weeds. I show also 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 never relax with weeds, yet no dig takes all the pressure out of it. I explain how weeding can be enjoyable, because there are so few. I share tips on how to stay weed free in this lovely scenario.
Message from Heather McCoy, Virginia 12.01.19
Thank you for the time and effort you put into clearly sharing your knowledge with those of us interested in becoming better gardeners. You have changed my approach to gardening, and I couldn’t be happier now than when I’m outside planting and growing and seeing the amazing results of your no dig advice.
Module 5 – Fertility, compost and soil
These three words have a usage and meaning that varies all the time. I take you through the understandings you need, show you different composts, and how to make compost at home.
Lesson 13 – Make your own compost
Homemade compost has abundant life and I explain how to gain even more of this. Everybody’s heaps and additions are different and once you have a grasp of the principles, you can create a process that works in your space.
Lesson 14 – What is fertility?
Say “fertility” to most gardeners and farmers, and they think of plant food from soil nutrients, yet 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 instead of 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 in four of them.
John Ambrogio on You Tube 2.11.18
No dig saves my back, and like you said at the end of this video, “The garden is fun”. Thank you so much for what you have done for me and countless other gardeners. Cheers from across the pond, from Michigan.
Module 6 – Make and crop one bed, and the ‘small garden’
I use my ‘small garden’ to show you how plantings can succeed each other in no dig, the choices and the methods. We also explore a history of sequential growth through months and years, in small areas.
Lesson 17 – Making a bed and four years’ cropping
This is a story of one bed: how we made it in the morning, planted and sowed in the afternoon, and then its growth and new plantings over the following three years. A bonus for this lesson is that 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 – A cropping plan and harvests
The small garden is 25m2/270ft2 and I take you through the details of soil preparation (very little!), 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.
Paul Bradley, Suffolk by email 4.11.18
The new garden (which now feeds my young family) was established using ‘no dig’. It works – it’s so simple and time saving. I’ll admit I was sceptical, and I’ll admit I was wrong!
Module 7, Final summary
Lesson 19 – A video of my talk, and a quiz.
To finish off the course, a one hour video summarises my approach to no dig and all the benefits you can enjoy.
The video looks at aspects of growing, which I shall be explaining further in an online course, available in 2020.