Sowing Timeline for Vegetables

These dates are distilled from 38 years trial and error in my gardens, where my results have highlighted best timings for best results.

You can sow these vegetables at different times and they will grow, but the outcomes will be different, such as lower yield, more pest and disease, perhaps a tendency to flower rather than leaf. Hence for example I do not recommend sowing salad rocket and mizuna in the spring because it’s their flowering season, although many gardeners do and are happy with the smaller yield and insect-damaged leaves, compared with healthier leaves and more weeks, even months of picking, from August sowings.

Dates are based on the climate of Somerset in south west UK, USDA zone 8-9, last frost mid May and first frost mid October. They refer to sowing seeds, not planting plants.

Sowing and planting

These two words are often used interchangeably, which causes confusion. On this page at least, sow refers to seeds, from celery to tomato to garlic, even potato. Plant refers to setting out a plant with leaves.

  • How big your plant is when you set it in the ground is your call.
  • I recommend planting small ones of average 4 weeks since sowing, except for tomatoes, aubergines etc.
  • Always plant before the roots have used all available compost and before you see leaves going yellow or purple (lack of nitrogen mostly).
  • Older plants take more time to establish so you lose cropping time in the end.
  • Use fleece/row covers in spring to help young plants establish.
  • Fleece reduces light by 15-30% but in spring this does not matter, because there is a surplus of light, and fleece converts some of the surplus to otherwise-absent warmth. Result: net gain.

Undercover and outside/outdoors

Seeds require more warmth to germinate than plants need to grow. I recommend sowing “undercover” where it’s warmer: windowsill, electric propagator, greenhouse, anywhere warm.

After about two weeks as new leaves grow fast, most plants need full light as much as or more than warmth. So look to move them from windowsill to greenhouse/polytunnel/cold frame.

All sowings I recommend in February and early March, until tomatoes, are frost tolerant. So they will survive frost in a greenhouse say, as seedlings.
I put with warmth for seedlings/plants that are killed by frost AND need extra warmth to grow.
  • Planting “outdoors” means setting plants in the ground, as opposed to sowing seeds in a greenhouse or polytunnel. This page is about sowing and does not have planting dates – see my Diary for more on that.

A note on applying these dates in different climatic zones

We need to differentiate between cold tolerant vegetables/herbs with frost resistance, and warmth loving ones.

1 Plants which grow in the cold, and are not killed by frosts of say -6C/low twenties F, include peas, onions, lettuce, spinach, brassicas and coriander. 2 Plantings which are killed by frost include tomatoes and sweetcorn.
3 Vegetables which positively require heat to grow, include runner/pole and French/bush beans, aubergines/eggplants and cucumbers.

I would sow the cold tolerant vegetables and herbs maybe a week earlier or at the same time in a warmer climate than here, and the latter two categories about two weeks earlier, if say last frost date is in April rather than (Homeacres) mid May. That is in spring.
In late summer and autumn generally, make sowings a week or two later in say zone 9 and where summers are hotter than here – our average summer day is 21C/70F, we are oceanic-temperate.

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From these guidelines, you can work out best dates through keeping notes and observing.

Lettuce

The common advice of “sow every two weeks” applies only if you want lettuce hearts. For loose leaves, 4-5 sowings in the whole year* suffice, when you use my method of never cutting lettuce plants, but picking outer leaves every few days. This allows a long life to each plant, see my lettuce love video for more details.
*sow undercover Feb-Mar, then 1st June, mid July (these three sowings for growing outdoors), and early September for undercover lettuce in winter.

February

Best start date is after Valentines Day when light is increasing at last, and fast.

Sow undercover broad beans, spinach, lettuce, peas for shoots, onion, salad onion, early brassicas (cabbage, calabrese, kohlrabi, cauliflower, turnips), radish, bulb fennel, parsley, coriander, dill. With warmth aubergine, pepper, chilli – sow these by early March

Sow outside broad beans, garlic if not already

March

Sow undercover as for February plus peas, Boltardy beetroot, celery & celeriac mid month. With warmth tomatoes – sow before mid month for undercover cropping, melon at month’s end

Sow outside broad beans, garlic if not already, and after mid month sow lettuce, spinach, peas, onion, salad onion, early brassicas, parsley, coriander, dill, parsnips, first early potato late March.

April

Sow undercover as for March (except its getting late for celeriac, sow asap), leeks, leaf beet, beetroot (all varieties), chard at month’s end, tomatoes for outdoor growing. With warmth and around mid month, cucumber, courgette, squash, sweetcorn

Sow outside all potatoes, broad beans, lettuce, spinach, peas, salad onion, early and autumn brassicas, parsley, leeks, leaf beet, carrots

  • Update 2020 about flea beetles: these pests have in the last year become more severe, in much of the UK at least. I advise to sow all brassica under cover, where possible, because they eat less there, And at Homeacres I do not sow radish from end March to mid August, because flea beetles do such damage to their tender leaves.

May

Sow undercover Courgette, French and climbing beans, leaf beet, beetroot, chard, lettuce, winter brassicas, salad onion. Plus leeks and winter squash by early May.

Swede at end May

Sow outside same as undercover, also maincrop potatoes in early May, carrots, parsnips but keep seedbed moist until germinated.

June

Sow undercover beetroot, swede, lettuce, leaf beet, chard, kale, purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower for both autumn & spring, calabrese for autumn harvests.

After solstice sow endive, chicory, kohlrabi and Florence fennel.

Sow outside same as undercover, also carrots.

July

Sow undercover Kohlrabi, lettuce, leaf beet, chard, endive, chicory, Florence fennel, chervil, coriander. Plus beetroot and savoy cabbage in first week.

After mid month, land cress, wild rocket, Chinese cabbage and spinach.

At month’s end, mustards, pak choi, salad rocket, turnips – though first week August is often better.

Sow outside same as undercover, and carrots until mid July.

August

Sow undercover endive and Florence fennel until 10th, lettuce (late August sowings to overwinter as small plants), claytonia, oriental leaves, salad rocket, turnips multisown and true spinach.

August is fantastic for sowing salad rocket, oriental leaves and spinach. Sow by mid month in order to have vigorous harvests through autumn, sow late month for smaller plants in autumn that may overwinter more strongly.

  • chervil – coriander – dill – land cress – wild rocket -spinach by mid August for autumn cropping,
  • any salads in mid August for planting September and to grow under a cloche,
  • spinach – spring onion –  spring cabbage late August for overwintering small.

Sow outside same as undercover but approximately a week earlier

September

Sow undercover 

  • For outdoor planting to crop in autumn/winter lambs lettuce, mizuna, salad rocket,
  • For outdoor planting to overwinter small, in early September sow lettuce, spinach, chervil, coriander, dill.
  • For undercover planting sow in early to mid September all salads (includes spinach, chard mustards, kale etc which you can grow large for cooking), spring onion.

Sow outside same as undercover but a week earlier, last salad sowings by 10th September.

October

Outside sow garlic. You can also sow onion sets though I recommend caution with these as they risk harbouring mildew over winter which infects onions in May and thus reduces growth/storage potential of spring-sown onions. Spring onions sown in August, White Lisbon type, seem less prone to this.

Last sowings

Depending where you live, from early November its worth sowing broad beans to overwinter as small plants, such as Aquadulce Claudia and Monica; sowing in December is possible too, both undercover (unheated) and outside, likewise for garlic.

173 thoughts on “Sowing Timeline for Vegetables

  1. Love the new site, loads of info. Just planted up my new polytunnel with Tsai Tsai, mixed lettuce, pink chard, blue kale, broad beans and claytonia. Really exciting, can’t wait for spring😀

      1. Hi Charles.

        I have just created my first organic no dig plot in Eze Village The South of France.

        How does the time line change for the climate here.

        Also I am on a steep slope which I have terraced and stepped.

        The ground was full of stones that I removed, I removed as many as possible (before discovering no dig ) the ground is made up of a lot of clay. Shall I just cardboard over then compost and topsoil.

        I have a lot of lilandi trees all around the edge of the property that has dropped many tons of mulch, can I use this mixed with compost or will it have too much acid in. I am running a propagation test in the soil, the lilandi mulch and compost to see which grows seeds better.

        Any advice will be greatly received.

        Many thanks for all of the amazing videos

        1. Hi Bruce,
          Sounds amazing. Yes good to proceed like that, see how you can control growth from the vertical edges/steps, always a bit tricky.
          Much of the clay in S France is argilo calcaire so limestone and higher Ph, and I would not worry about potential acidity.
          However they take a long time to decompose and use nutrients for that, would be better to keep most in a heap for a year say.
          Check out Johnson Su bioreactor too, if you have time. Mine is chugging on at 55C now, 5 weeks since making.

  2. Interesting! I’ve been keeping a garden journal for a few years and have been reviewing my results and observations. I’ve started to arrange a timeline for myself (zone 6a, northeastern US). Many of your suggestions comport with mine, except here or there I’m a week or two later to start things in the Spring and a week or two earlier for starting Fall cropping.

    Does that sound as it should be?

    1. Jen thanks for sharing this and yes, I reckon you are spot on. I guess your first and last frost dates are mid May to mid October?

      1. Yes, exactly. I’ve been watching you sowing spinach on youtube just now and I’m excited for Spring already. We’ve been having good luck with artichokes sown under lights in January so it won’t be long now! Thanks so much for the wonderful site and your reply.

  3. The new site is much easier to navigate and looks great! I started following no dig (your instruction) last year around this time and now my allotment is really turning around. It’s only my second year anyway, but it was inherited from a digger. I also have my house gardens all now no-dig. With my small children and a heavy load at the house it has really increased my enjoyment of gardening and my capacity too. Thanks!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your sowing calendar (and indeed the rest of your site, wonderful!). We’re in the north of Scotland, 35 miles north of Inverness on the east coast (57 north), but as we’re on a peninsula our frost dates aren’t that different from yours – though it doesn’t get as warm in the summer. What are your suggestions for adapting your schedule for up here, particularly as it’s so much darker for half the year?

    1. Thanks Marie, and I suggest sowing a month later in until April, maybe two weeks later in May.
      Then two weeks earlier after mid July, four weeks earlier by mid September.
      After a year of doing that, you will see where to adapt further.

  5. So enjoying poring over your site and this timeline is wonderful! A query please – we’re just taking on an allotment for the first time, unsure of which plot yet, but they range from scraggy to really overgrown. Is it too late to just cover and mulch now and expect things to be jolly by the spring, or will that likely be ok? Feeling all the more impatient as we’ll be moving out of the area next winter. Do we resort to an initial dig or start collecting cardboard? Many thanks

    1. Chris I would start now with levelling & mulchings. When you can plant depends what weds there are, how much compost.
      I would raise plants rather than sow direct, and check my video Two ways to clear weeds.

      1. Thanks – the video is really helpful. All the information and tips you provide are so empowering, there’s method in the magic. You’re an inspiration! Many thanks

  6. Hello, I am in Middle Ga in the States and I have a really hard problem with Crabgrass and I do not like to use chemicals because I have bees, I had my hubby scrape the top layers of grass off the new section of dirt and I have put rolls of brown paper down and I am getting 3 yards of compost delivered 2/6/19 to put on top of the paper. Question how thick should I spread it out and will I need to mulch it? I normally do the Back to Eden Garden method but I am wanting to try your method with the new section of garden. I have also started my onion seeds this past Saturday like you did in groups and hope they sprout.

    1. Hi Tabitha, I just looked up crabgrass and see it’s a warm season annual, dies in winter, so the seeds will not grow through your mulch of paper with compost on top. I would spread a 4 inch layer, enough to get your plantings off to a flying start, and to ensure no weeds appear from below.
      Be ready however to pull any that emerge, before they reestablish. It depends what is already there in terms of perennials like bindweed.
      Best of luck with your onions.

  7. Good Morning Charles, your very active presence on this website is a huge endorsement for the time freed up by using No Dig!
    I’ve just started my first No Dig bed in response to being told my allotment needs sorting or I’ll loose it, I was about to give it up over the relentless couch grass battle, which left me no time to grow vegetables when I was pointed in your direction.
    I’ve read through most of your website and watched quite a few of your videos, I think I’ve grasped how to get started on the beds and sowing some seeds under cover, but what then?
    Where do I plant everything?
    Do you have any guidance on planning what to plant where, once I’ve got my No Dig beds established?

    1. Thanks Cathy and plant wherever you feel like it, in blocks rather than lines is easy to manage.
      For spacings and other advice see No Dig Organic Home & Garden.
      Don’t worry about 4 year rotation, plant what you want to eat.

      1. Thanks Charles, and as it’s Valentine’s Day I’m sowing seeds undercover on my south facing 17th floor balcony greenhouse today, so I have something to plant.
        Off to get a copy of No Dig Organic Home & Garden, does it advise when to plant out or do I need to find that information elsewhere?

  8. Charles,

    We love keeping up with you from our small farm in Peyton, Colorado. Thanks for your gardening tips and all the goodness and kindness you spread. Your smile and your bright outlook on life are contagious. Thanks for sharing with all of us! Thanks to you, we’ve jumped into composting, no-dig gardening, and a host of other things. Our biggest challenge is keeping the young cows and the chickens away from it all.

    You do more good than you know, and I don’t just mean in the gardening world. Keep it up!

    With appreciation and admiration,
    Jared Haynie

    P.S. My (young) kids love your Brittish accent and especially the way you say the word “compost.” It makes them all giggle. I thought you’d get a kick out of that.

    1. Hello Jared, I am delighted to be making a difference for the better, many thanks for your kind words.
      Funny about your kids, that makes me smile and please say hello to them.
      I have other comments like being known as “Uncle Charles” in one Illinois household! I like the contact with you Americans.

    2. Jared: I agree with your assessment of Uncle Charlie…he is doing more good than he can possibly know. His kind attitude and disposition are so calming to our spirits!

      1. I also love the uncle Charles. I am in South Carolina, USA. I have learned so much from you Charles and watching you garden makes me smile.

  9. Hi Charles
    Really enjoying your book and diary and the wonderful videos and following your advice religiously . I have been reading the sowing timeline above as it is an invaluable resource but I think Im probably being dim here but could you clarify something that confuses me…. It says sow veg undercover in February/ March for example but then the same veg is listed in July /August and says undercover too ie. it says sow chard at end of April undercover then again in July under cover.
    I understand sowing undercover at beginning of year when its cooler, but why when its warmer later in year, are they still undercover and not straight in ground. Also does undercover mean starting them in a propagator , in both incidences before transferring as plants.
    Many thanks Pat

    1. Hello Pat
      Yes I see your point.
      Undercover in summer is about keeping pests and summer storms off, it’s a controlled environment for reliable results. Not about warmth in summer, certainly with no use of a propagator.

  10. Charles, first of all ‘Thanks” for everything that you share online – truly inspirational and a godsend for a newbie gardener like myself.
    Am preparing veg beds on a plot I took over 6 months ago, and have a question before I start sowing – which veg types do best in the shadiest areas of the garden? I’m planning spinach and lettuce, but would appreciate other suggestions. Thanks and all the best from Norfolk…..Nick

  11. Hello Charles,
    We had a traditional “dig” veg plot some 20 years ago and although it started out well we were eventually overcome by weeds when we introduced a big load of horse manure which in hindsight probably was not composted properly. It was devastating and we gave up.
    Now with Brexit and the end of the world just round the corner we thought we had better try again and I was taken with the idea of “no dig” when it came up on my youtube suggested videos back in early Feb.
    The bed has been made (£200 of compost!!!) and so have the compost bins and we have been sowing seeds like crazy, probably far too many and all the wrong sorts. It is colder here than the surrounding hampshire countryside because we are high up but here’s hoping we can at least get something back from our investment.
    THANK YOU for being so generous with your advice. It’s a rare thing these days.

      1. Thanks! My friend has just given me the wood chip from her mostly laurel hedge. So we spent today hauling about 100 x70litre bags of it to our garden. I’m not sure if I can add some of this to our compost?

        1. Hi Lizzie,
          Wood chip is very high Carbon content so you would only want to add a bit to your compost, probably better to put it a big pile and let the fungi work their magic or use on paths between beds 🙂

          Happy gardening!

  12. Hi Charles,
    Thanks for all the great advice. We have just gotten an allotment plot, it was worked last year by digging, it has next to no weeds and I was wondering if we could just cardboard the paths and compost the beds and get going? If so, given that there are staggeringly few weeds, how much compost should we use? The lack of weeds has thrown me off course as I was all ready with stacks of cardboard and plans for major weed clearing.
    Thank you,
    Louise.

    1. Great to hear Louise and yes, card even double card the paths, 2-3in compost on beds after raking level, all ready! A nice “problem”.

      1. Thank you so much for your reply, and yes, it really was a nice surprise when we saw our allocated plot. Can’t wait to get started.

  13. Hello Charles

    Thanks for this fantastic resource!

    Will living in Cumbria make a big difference to the planting timetable – and if so how long/late would you reccomend we lag behind you?

    Kind regards

    Tom

    1. Hello Tom and depending on altitude you must be around two weeks later in spring, same by midsummer then a week earlier from mid July, two weeks by September

  14. How very exciting to have come across your methods! I have already changed out the way I am doing things and see results. I am also zone 6A in the Great Lakes region of Ohio with the same frost dates. My husband and I will be making a manure run to the local fair grounds for free horse manure to try the use of building beds on top of it. Thank you so much Charles! I am binge watching your YouTube videos!

  15. I live in cold climate 3a, Canada , It is end of April and I’ve just been introduced to your method, two questions. 1. Am I to late to start this year? We don’t have long growing season, I live on acreage with tilled soil; but would love to try this method, I have tones of weeds.2. If I can what type of compost do I start with; would it be a mix and should it have manure in it? I plan on strarting just a couple beds.

    1. Never too late Kerri. As soon as snow is melting lay cardboard on the weeds, any compost is good, manure optional, keep finest compost for top layer and plant in that!

      1. Hi There,

        I am also in Edmonton, Zone 3a, just curious about how much of your planting schedule we’d have to omit or how much we’d have to shift our timeline by. We get loads of sun but short summer.

        I am also planning on a greenhouse being up by end of fall to allow for earlier stuff next year. Just get hardy stuff growing earlier and then sow plants under fleece cover (found some for cheap at our “discount/dollar” store) once we’re into early may?

        1. Hi Nathaniel and yes those timings sound good. No dig helps in shorter summers because bed prep is so quick, concentrate on planting.
          You could be sowingthe first batch up to a month later, but similar timings now in May

    2. Hi Charles thank you so much for the information you provide. I want to do my first no dug bed in my garden to grow veg, would it be OK once I have removed all weeds to cover the area in leaf mulch as a compost to plant into? If so do I need to place cardboard now first?

      1. Hi Lesley, nice to hear you are getting started.
        1 There is no need to remove weeds first, but you can if you want!
        2 Even if you leave weeds there, a thick mulch say 4in/10cm+ of organic matter will kill them, without cardboard – UNLESS the weeds are say couch grass Elymus reopens, and other perennials
        3 Cardboard is a kind of insurance against regrowth upwards of any strong or perennial weeds. It’s not always necessary, and used mainly when getting ground clean of thick and perennial weed growth.
        4 Leaf mulch can be transplanted into – preferably 18-24 months old, looking friable with not too many leaves identifiable.

  16. Hi Charles- I have a question about even doing the no dig, with half soil and half compost. I have raised beds, in which was able to get some free dirt, that was used here in Wyoming, USA. They wash the beets, that is used for processing sugar from. So the left over dirt, is removed from the mill site, along with some sugar beets in it. It is quite smelly, (I like it! Ha! Ha!), anyway its the left over beets fermenting and breaking down. It has broken down and set for quite awhile, but quite lumpy. I have used this for the bottom, on top of cardboard and last years leaves. I have now proceeded to put composted cow manure, sheep manure and a yard care/ cow manure compost, on top of the soil. Will this be ok, to plant in? I’m going to give it a try! Any suggestions? Could one use fish fertilizer as an added food, or would this be too much, of a good thing?:} When watering later on that is? Or perhaps this would not be necessary? Thanks for giving me some insight and thought to this! Love your videos and newsletter updates! Greatly appreciated!

    1. I apologize, for the way,or the start of my above question. So sorry! I’m totally for no dig!!! I was really wondering about what I had done with the dirt, that contained fermenting sugar beets and the dirt, that came from washing the beets, at the sugar factory. Particularly, since there was fermenting beets in the dirt, at the bottom, of my raised beds. Then on top, I placed the composted manure, and yard care compost. I know that you are quite busy, at this time of year, and might not be able to give me an answer, at this time. Thanks again, for any suggestions! I do have, your diary, Vegetable Course, and How to Create a new garden. I love your books! Very thorough! Hope you have a great summer! Love Steph’s web site as well.

      1. Fermenting beets in soil. Sounds like somewhere along the way will look like compost! Did you have a lot of subsidence (pits?) as the sometimes to my mind super large beets rotted away? Easy enough to level out with a rake this fall if you did.

  17. Hi Charles! I just want to pop in and THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for sharing your method of gardening with all of us! I live in the Virginia Mountains and have the same Mid-May to Mid October growing season. I have a 99 square foot patio garden and have built a 50′ x 50′ Kitchen Garden on a vacant plot across the street from my house. You will save me so much time, so much money and so much labour to get beautiful produce all year long! I was using the Square Foot Garden method but filling the boxes in the Kitchen Garden proved to be cost prohibitive. I cannot wait to use your method to plant my fall crops! You are such a humble and informative teacher and providing a real service to a world who needs it now! CHEERS to the wise and wonderful Charles! Many Blessings! CAN IS USE SPENT POTTING MIX FROM OLD POTS UNTIL MY COMPOST GETS GOING?

    1. Well thanks Izzy, and I like how you can colonise the vacant plot.
      By all means use old potting mix as compost for new beds.
      Happy harvests
      Charles

      1. YAY! Thank you! I just ordered 2 of your books and a dibber! Can’t wait to get them and really study your method! It’s brilliant!

        No Dig Organic Home & Garden: Grow, Cook, Use, and Store Your Harvest by Charles Dowding

        Charles Dowding’s Vegetable Garden Diary: No Dig, Healthy Soil, Fewer Weeds, 2nd Edition

  18. Hi Charles,
    I have your book but it’s very useful to have a one page reference too, which is why I refer to this page often. I noticed that you don’t mention sowing parsnips in April (and also in the Which article). From the book I can’t see any obvious explanation, so wanted to check whether this is simply an omission or is there some reason not to?
    Many Thanks
    DT

    1. Thanks Davey, and it’s mainly because the strong sun in April can dry parsnip seedbeds before they germinate.
      Actually in damp weather you can sow them until June.

  19. Hi Charles,
    Thanks so much for introducing me (and many others) to this brilliant way of gardening! Veggie gardening and compost making aren’t rocket science after all! I have your Diary and Vegetable Course books however after reading through them and trawling your website I can’t find info on sowing onion seeds to plant in autumn and overwinter. In your videos you pull onions that you over wintered so I’m sure there are instructions somewhere! I am in Seattle so it can get a little damp (!) here and coolish. Local gardening books say to overwinter ‘long day’ onions. I would appreciate your input as so far following your good advice has yielded veg I haven’t usually been able to grow (read beets!). My husband calls you my ‘guru’ and rightly so!
    Thanks,
    Caroline

    1. Hi Caroline,
      Many thanks and sorry about that, I have stopped growing overwintered onions as I find they can harbour mildew which strikes May-June following.
      However White Lisbon onions for salad/spring onions do not bring mildew and you can use them as onions in June July. I mention sowing them late August.

      1. Thanks Charles. I might try both – sowing August and Feb and see which works best here. I fear mildew maybe an issue.

        1. I’ve just ordered your How to grow winter Vegetables! Overwintering vegetables fascinates me and you make it look do-able! Let’s see what happens with the onions!

  20. Hi Charles I have white rot on my allotment,are their any white rot resistant onion seeds or sets .Thank you Tahira.

  21. Hi Charles, I have been learning a lot from reading your website and watching videos. I have just watched the one about how to deal with weeds in te non dig method and you mention few times to use cows’ manure.
    What are pro and cons versus horses’?

    1. Elena, both manures are good except two things are slightly better about cow:
      *fertility is a little higher
      *there is less risk of aminopyralid weedkiller, though sadly still some risk
      If I had only organic horse manure, I would still be happy for my garden.

  22. Hi Charles,

    Can I ask if things like Rhubarb are suited to no dig, given that they need to be split every four or five years to encourage production of stems.

    I have acquired 3 rhubarb crowns but have no idea how to proceed. Can you offer advice?

    Regards Donna

    PS I have no beds as yet but am building up cardboard, compost etc ready to start as soon as possible.

  23. Hi Charles!
    I’ve dabbled in-expertly in gardening, mainly tomatoes cucumbers lettuce, for three years (always doing things later than I plan : – (, but still getting almost enough of what I’m trying for. Lately I’m binge watching your videos while doing Christmas cleaning : – ), and evenings I’m reading, trying to start at the very beginning: Sir Albert Howard’s “An Agricultural Testament”. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience!
    My question is how would I shift your dates given my location, (Toronto Canada 43.698, -79.331)? The zones are fairly compressed here due to lake effect (6a closest to lake, 5b just 5 km north of that, and 5a about 30 km north of that – e.g. map here http://www.planthardiness.gc.ca/?m=1). I would be in the 6a part of that, close to lake, 43 deg north so I suppose I have longer higher sun than you. Clearly our winters get much colder than your zone 8, and summers hotter, yet I suspect the frost dates are about the same. How are your frost dates quoted by the way? as per farmers almanac, 66% chance that there’s no frost after/before each date? If I use almanac.com for Toronto its May 4-Oct 13. But from actual data I can find online its more like Apr 14-21 for last spring frost and Oct 27-Nov 3 for first fall, over the past 10 years. Confusing! I’m thinking to just try your dates just as they are for a first year of my new more ambitious plans. Thoughts? sorry for the long post and thank you so much for reading.

    1. Hi Martin, nice you are considering all this.
      And that is an inspiring book to read, still so relevant.
      Most year here we have frost in early May, 1 out of 4 years in mid May so I take that as last frost date,
      First frost av. is after mid October and v variable.
      We warm up more slowly than you after last frost, so no rush for us to plant out before mid May, plants that need warmth.
      I would use my dates eg sow tomatoes undercover 15-20 March, then play it by ear.

      1. Perfect. That was what I was figuring (start with your dates) but its nice to have my thoughts backed up by your experience. Thank you again for your videos and your thoughtful answer!

  24. I have been given a national book token, I have wanted a copy of your diary for a while (I follow your planting/sowing scheme already ), not sure if I can redeem it online though, so I intend to go to Blackwell books as they seem to stock it.
    I reckon you saved me a stash in compost/time already so I feel like I’m not really being extravagant.
    (I don’t have a garden at the moment, but here’s hoping!). I will just be sowing/planting in old sour cream pots this year: portable, hopefully by the time planting time arrives I will have somewhere to put them, otherwise I will have to give them away.
    Thanks for all your hard work btw.

    Happy new year, may our gardens (and sour cream pots) continue to be productive!

  25. Hello Charles,

    I have a tiny farm in France (zone 7) and have just read your recommendation for Bingenheimer Saatgut. I wonder if you have considered my favourite supplier: Zollinger Bio in Switzerland? (https://www.zollinger.bio/en). The prices are competitive, compared to Bingenheimer, the quality is excellent and the service is very efficient. (The website is also far better in my humble opinion!)

    Thank you for all the knowledge you share and all the very best for 2020.

    1. Hello Jane, and this is useful knowledge, thanks.
      Two people have pointed out to me that in the UK we may soon be unable to buy seeds from Europe. Just one more year!
      I hope your farm goes well in 2020.

  26. I started my beds in USA zone 8b with lasagna method. It was simple to switch to no dig method of building soil each year. How does my zone compare to your zone 8? Are we about a month apart? I plant garlic in September and harvest in May. I live in Central Texas with dry, hot summers. I have your Veg Journal and want to use your advice sensibly.
    Thanks for all of your advice platforms. Happy New Year!

    1. Hello Gail
      How nice to hear this and your dates make sense, certainly sowing a month earlier in spring is a good plan. And for most August-September sowings, 2-4 weeks later.
      It’s funny how we are both 8b yet with such different weather and conditions.
      Happy new year.

  27. Hi Charles! Thank you so much for your wonderful help. We all refer to you as our “Garden Daddy” here at home. You make us feel safe and protected through this learning experience. Last winter we prepped a 2,500 square ft space here in VA. with chickens living off of a compost pile of leaves, rabbit manure filed wood shavings, and organic restaurant veggies. We removed the chickens in early March, and I spread out the compost we had created together. Then I followed your instructions, laying 6 inches of organic mushroom compost on my beds. We began planting in April. It was a wonderful year. We tell our garden guests all about you. We love you. My question is, should I be concerned about the quantity of mushrooms that sprout all over our garden paths and in the impressions around lettuce etc? How do you manage mushroom growth? Would you recommend using another compost besides more organic mushroom compost for my 1-2 inch top dressing each year? Hopefully someday I’ll have enough homemade compost for the job🙂. Thank you Charles. And thank you for teaching an effective, weed free path method!!!!

    1. Dear Claire
      Lovely feedback, many thanks and that is a heartwarming result. Yes the weed control is so nice!
      Mushrooms are a wonderful sign of healthy fungi in your soil. I am always pleased to see them.
      A one inch top dressing should be enough for you, soon you will have enough compost 🙂

  28. Hi Charles and a happy New Year to you and yours!
    I’ve followed your no-dig method for several seasons now. I’ve just watched your ‘Plan your vegetable cropping all year’ video (Dec 13, 2019) and noted your wonderful fennel which you sowed u/c in February and planted out in March. I’ve been trying to grow fennel from sowings after the June solstice for several years and they never do well, never bulking out at all and I’ve just about given up on them. My question is:
    Why is after the solstice usually recommended and what’s your secret after such an early sowing?
    Many thanks
    Jane

  29. Hello Charles,
    Thank you so much for all of the information you share! You are so informative with such a genuine kindness. I live in 9a in Southern California and it can get up 110 degrees in the summer months. My last frost date is April1st and my first frost date is Nov 13th. I was wondering if moving up the sowing dates a month in the beginning of the year and moving the dates a month later around July would be sufficient? I also am wondering if composting in a plastic garbage can ok? I worry about the chemicals transferring into the compost from the plastic but I wanted to know your thoughts. Thank you so much for all you do and for being such a blessing to all of us gardeners!

    1. Thanks Nicole it’s my pleasure, and yes that date shifting sounds right, even you could sow say onions, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, beetroot etc now as it’s not only about frost dates, but general warmth – those vegetables are frost hardy.
      People do use plastic compost bins and they would hold the moisture. I would use one, with drainage holes for sure, but I don’t know for sure.

  30. Hi Charles, thank you for all the information , I learnt a lot.
    I’m from Algeria and I’m working in the desert in an oil company. I love gardening and I want to do it here in the desert, the thing is that the sand is not the appropriate soil to sow or plant, what can compost to make the sand productive. thanks again.

    1. Hello Reda
      I applaud your commitment 🙂 and reckon you need somehow to effect some planting “reverdir le desert” because of how trees and shrubs attract then retain more moisture than bare sand.
      The methods I teach need the compost you perhaps don’t have, or in small amounts. But even a small patch with a little compost on top, and water, would make a good start to see what you can achieve.

      1. hi, I heard that leucaena tree is good to grow soil. do you have an idea how to use it. we have plenty of it here. thank you.
        Reda.

        1. Hi,
          my lemon tree is full of flowers, but it’s loosing the leaves. what can I do?
          please, don´t forget that the tree is in a pot. and it’s in the desert. thanks.

  31. Hi Charles you have some great informative videos on YouTube keep up the good work.
    Wanted to know your thoughts on mulching with grass clippings. I have been doing it in my greenhouses for the past 3 years and seem to have good results with the tomatoes and peppers, which like a slightly more acidic soil. I put card board underneath before planting the seedlings through it then top up grass over the cardboard few times a year. Slugs haven’t been a big a problem as they are when I do it outside but to be honest I mulch with grass everywhere I can when it’s available as don’t like composting it in my black bins (too small for proper mix). Wanted to share in case anyone reading was wondering about grass Clipping mulching. Try wee on your toms too works a treat.

    Thanks
    Chris

    1. Thanks for this share Chris.
      There are many ways to garden for sure.
      Are you cropping in winter in the tunnel – I wonder how much grass remains as surface residue say by October?

      1. Hi Charles thanks for your kind reply.
        The grass inside the g/houses turns dry and brown very quickly and seems to help the card break down. Come October when I pulled out the tomatoes last year there wasn’t much grass left on the surface and I threw one of the black compost bins contents over the surface which I haven’t planted into yet. Will be sowing radish, spinach, rocket and leaf lettuce in the next 2 weeks Into the compost did the same last year at the start of March and worked well but thought I would try a week or two earlier to see if they still grow as well. Seems to be very mild this winter so will see. Will pull the remains of them out and put the tomatoes in their place come April/may. Then start with the grass clippings again. I just have to keep an eye out for slugs as it does seem to attract a few, but not loads.
        Thanks again, Chris

  32. Hi Charles,

    I’ve recently been watching your videos and getting some tips on early sowings under cover to prolong the growing season. I have some fleece at hand for when the time comes to protect young plants and I’m hoping to be planting out a little earlier this year. My question is about leggy seedlings. I’ve started a few things off at home, above my wardrobe, as it’s the only spare place I have. The seedlings are obviously getting leggy as they search for light. I know that the seedlings can be buried, but is there a stage they get to when you’d consider binning and starting again? Or can they always be salvaged? What impact does it have on the health of the plant later in the season? Perhaps you might be able to do one of your experiments with some seedlings that you let get leggy?

    1. Hi Tom
      This sounds difficult. Basically you have sown too early, see sowing timeline. Especially as you have only the top of a wardrobe to grow seedlings.
      They will need to go in the ground at a less mature stage, when they are more fragile and susceptible to bad weather and pests. I would be inclined to compost them and start over, sow early March. Sorry.
      And/or invest in some kind of outdoor propagating space.

      1. Hi Charles,

        Thanks for the reply. I should add that I have an outside greenhouse in which to pot the seedlings on. I’m using your method of sowing seeds in to trays and pricking out in to individual cells. I was just wondering how best to nurture seedlings that are getting leggy.

  33. Hi Charles,
    Zone 6b, Kentucky U.S. (Early May-Late October) Thanks so much for all of the invaluable and well presented information you provide. I have been a gardener for quite some time now and have practiced many different methods. That said, I’m finding that your methods are a wonderful distillation of your years of hard work and experimentation and they really speak to my gardening sensibilities. I’m currently teaching Erdkinder at a Montessori school and our curriculum has a heavy focus of hands on, small-scale market gardening. We will begin sowing as soon as we return from Valentines weekend. I will rely upon your website and courses for many years to come, and pass on the information and skills to a new generation of gardeners. So, Thanks Again!!!

    1. Hello John and I am delighted to read this. I am sure you can inspire and empower the next generation with these common sense methods. Do also encourage them to think things through, and not believe a lot of what they read, to rely instead on their own understandings.
      Interesting that your 6b frost dates are the same as here. I think Homeacres is a zone 6 climate, but with milder weather midwinter.

    1. Hi Patricia, see comment from John Scalf, and yes I would use mostly my dates here except perhaps sow late February not mid February, the first sowings.

  34. Hi Charles,

    How soon would move your seedlings from a window sill into the greenhouse? This Friday we are expecting -2 C in Oxfordshire , should I wait for the frost to pass before taking my salad and onion seedling to the unheated greenhouse?

    Kind regards,
    Adrian

    1. Adrian it’s less about temperature, more about taking them out before too legyy and thin-stemmed.
      Lettuce and onions survive frost. You could lay fleece over to retain some warmth at night.

  35. Dear Charles
    Thank you very much for sharing all your knowledge. Have been “armchairgardening” a lot at front of the computer :-). This years challenge of mine is to get a better crop out of my raised beds as well as starting up to make my own compost.
    Multisowing – and starting up the seeds inhouse, taking them to my unheated greenhouse for the hardy ones here in late february and the more tender ones at a heated bench in the same greenhouse, – seems to saving me a lot of space. This new way of growing greens is very exciting.
    Greetings from Denmark (following you also on IG – my account is : susannekolmos

  36. Hi Charles,
    Wanted to say hello from Australia and to let you know that I have just found your YouTube channel and have been binge watching for the last few days. Would it be an easy convert for planting guide for here?
    Many thanks for your wealth of garden knowledge.

    1. Thankyou Sue and many Australians use my methods and similar timings + 6 months.
      It depends though where you are.
      No dig and mulching has near-universal value.

  37. In your book Salad leaves for all Seasons you talk of adding basalt rock dust to compost on your veg. beds and find that it adds to the flavour of your crops. I am thinking of trying it myself – also in my polytunnel and wonder if you continue to use it and which brand do you find most effective?
    Any advice would be appreciated. Kind regards – Janet

    1. Hi Janet, yes i use it sometimes. Just cannot be sure how much difference it makes! My soil is pretty fertile and healthy already.
      Remin brand is good, now sold by Agralan.

  38. Many thanks for the gardening knowledge that you share. Your Organic Gardening book, website, and videos are a treasury of information. After adjustments of your planting dates to my Midwest USA weather conditions, your organic, no-dig methods have worked very well. Please continue to do what you do so well.

    Great success and good health to you during these anxious times.

  39. Hello again Charles,
    Here in Dublin there are many friends hooked on your videos of sowing into compost method, and no dig method, thanks a million.
    Nothing is so life enhancing during this time of global crisis as growing your own food, nurturing the soil, and protecting wildlife.
    I personally have gained so much from cropping over the months and the multi sowing idea.
    Your style reaches all and we are addicted to you !!
    Joyce Fitzpatrick

    1. That is warm, some different vegetables too, mostly sow about a month earlier in spring and a month later from late summer

  40. Hi Charles
    I have been growing for a few years and i have your diary book. I would love to be able to do no dig but am struggling to try it with tall pots (in a greenhouse) as i am in a wheelchair. I have tried topping them every year with our own home made compost but i find they are still drying out quickly and im unsure if they have what they need should i keep just topping them each year and by how much? or do you think it would be best to refill them every year? Also this may sound strange but i grew beautiful chard one year and then read it was poisonous if not cooked properly? So i ripped it out and never grew it again. I know if anyone can clear this up it would be you. And thank you for your time and advise on here and youtube its greatly appreciated
    Michelle

    1. Michelle. Yes keep topping up to the top!
      Bed sides do tend to dry out, no easy answer. Some line with polythene but then slugs hide in there. Just water more.
      There is a plague of myths, stopping people do good things!! Chard is great both raw and cooked, but raw is not so tasty.

  41. Hi Charles,
    I was wondering if you have Graden timelines for other zones. I live in US in zone 4. I am also wanting to purchase your course; however, I live in the US. Can I pay the same amount in US dollars

    1. Hi John, afraid the Calendar is for 6-8.
      For zone 4 I would sow two weeks later until June, then two weeks earlier from mid July.
      The online course is about $190, depending on the exchange rate.

  42. Does it matter if seed potatoes go a bit soft and wrinkly during the Chitting process? I have some charlotte chitting on a north facing windowsill for the past 10 days and some are going a bit soft and a bit wrinkly! I was planning on waiting another week and then putting them out, so first week April.

    1. I chit potatoes in the dark, Amy. They’re a lot quicker to get reasonable length shoots – I go for about half-an-inch as anything much more renders them liable to damage when handling. I’ve found that when they go wrinkly, which is less likely in a coolish dark place, they soon fill out again in damp compost or soil. I don’t know if Charles has any other slant on this…

  43. Hello Charles,
    I am plotting to reclaim my vegetable garden this year in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. I am so glad to have found your ‘no fuss’ approach to gardening as depending on the outcome of this pandemic, I will be depending a lot on the produce that I grow. A couple of questions – is there a reason that your compost area is covered; water control, light? Is there a particular density of flowering plants that you have in order to ward off pests? e.g. Should I plant a whole row of marigolds or just at either end of the row?
    Thanks so much for your tips and tricks, and lovely photos – keep them coming!
    Melanie

    1. Cheers Melanie, yes no fuss is best 🙂
      Covered to keep out excess rain, compost more aerated
      Just a few flowers dotted around

  44. Hi Charles. I’m just starting a new allotment and have inherited lots of currant bushes raspberries etc and a small asparagus bed BUT all the ground is chock a block with bindweed and couch grass among other weeds. I started to clear the weeds and have removed 8 bin bags of the roots around the fruit bushes. I’d prefer your no dig method from now on in. How can I suppress the weeds on the asparagus bed (as yet untouched)? How do I suppress the weeds around the fruit bushes and trees (the roots are growing in with the roots of bushes.

    1. Tracy, phew!
      Thick cardboard cut to shape for bushes.
      For raspberries start again once ground is clean. Dig out old raspberries first, could replant new suckers, not old roots.
      Maybe same for asparagus, almost impossible situation – take harvest until end June, then cover polythene. Sow seeds of asparagus now in modules, for planting next spring.

  45. Hi Charles. I’m just a beginner to gardening. I am 13 years old. I live in Wellington, New Zealand. I watch your videos and they have taught me lots about gardening. I want to convert my dug bed (125cm x 375cm) into a no dig bed but I don’t know how to. I don’t have enough space to create a new bed and my current bed has lots of vegetables like lettuce of 3 different types, beetroot and parsley. I have watched your video about starting out no dig but it would mean a lot to me if you could explain what to do in my situation. You have inspired me. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Dineth and it’s nice to inspire somebody so young.
      From where you are now, simply wait until you have enough surface of that bed empty of vegetables, that you can cover the surface with say 3-5cm compost.
      That is it! Your soil organisms will then come to the surface to feed, and initiate improvements in soil structure and nutrient availability.
      Apply 3cm compost every year going forwards, make or buy compost as well as you can. You should see steady improvements and fewer weeds.

      1. Thank you so much! That will help me a lot in producing lots of great food using the no dig method. Again, thank you very much!!!

  46. Thank you ! just planted February, March and April!!!! (Slow starter!!) Thanks fr all the info… Im a beginner but feel like a pro!! xx

  47. Hello Charles
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom so freely; I have found all your advice to be so practical and reliable.
    I work full time, and have two acres of garden; inevitably there are periods when I have bare beds until I find a chance to plant out into that bed. I am in West Gippsland, one hour south of Melbourne, Australia and have a highly fertile clay loam soil, high rainfall, and with only a few frosts a year, it doesn’t ever really get cold enough to bring growth to a halt. Weed growth is a massive problem in my garden!
    I’d very much appreciate your opinion on the idea of growing a mixed legume/brassica/cereal cover crop in my beds during the periods when I’m not able to attend to a vegetable crop. I thought perhaps I could cut the cover crop before it sets seed, let it lie on the surface of the no dig bed, cover with a single layer of newspaper, and then top with a layer of compost…. Do you think this would be ok to subsequently plant out seedlings into?
    Thanks again for being such a great gardening friend to everyone.
    Kind regards
    Jen

    1. Hello Jen

      Nice to hear this and yes it sounds a good idea, I would try similar. Probably not a lot of compost, fertility will be good. Even just polythene ofr say 6 weeks and a dust of compost.
      Here out season is not long enough and space is precious but everyone can work out a method according to their needs.
      Slugs could be an issue but perhaps they are not too common for you.

  48. Hi Charles,
    I would like to try growing Filderkraut for sauerkraut this year ( never tried it and not sure best way to make but hopeful). Had seeds from Bingenheim last year. Bearing in mind the flea beetle massacre we had here from July onwards, when would you recommend sowing them and at what spacing when planting out? Their website says you can sow them already.
    Must feel really strange for you with no courses. Was looking forward to trying to make your open day again, but c’est la vie. Upside of this is more time to garden – I’ve never seen our allotment site so tended. Downside, can’t get cardboard or compost. Just have to rely on half an inch and lots of weeding for new beds.
    Wish you both all the best and keeping healthy.

    Jan from Cambridgeshire.

    1. Shall I assume it’s round about 6th May? And Rodynda too.
      Jan

      FINALLY had some rain today. Yay.
      First for over two months!

  49. Hi Charles, I’m a newbie and about to start on a very small plot 2 metres by about 1m give or take a bit initially. I have room for much bigger but I want to start out small since I don’t know what I’m doing. I wonder how and what I should plant in such a small space and how to take into account planting in May, June, July, etc. given that the space will have other plants from April in it, for instance. I’m in the north east of Scotland so climate is colder but it has been very mild this year at 17C just 2 days ago. I have access to organic seeds and seedlings at my work so that will make things easier for me so that I don’t have to wait.

    1. Heather for a small space like that, up to 400l compost or 6in amount will give strong growth for many years.
      See my video One Bed/bed by the shed for ideas.
      Use Sowing timeline but sow 2 weeks later in the coming month, then 2-3 weeks earlier from late July.
      Good luck 🥕

      1. Thanks Charles. I found the single bed and small garden videos very informative- I feel I’ve learnt so much already!

        May I ask if it’s too late to plant this month or should I wait until next and plant two weeks later? Can I ask which books I should buy since I’m a beginner? Thank you so much for your time.

  50. Hi Charles, I mistakenly said I had a space about 2x1m but it’s actually 3x2m. I just measured it! So that gives me a bit wider scope. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

  51. Hi Charles,
    I love your videos and have found them to be a tremendous help this year, as I have expanded my garden during this time at home. I have been looking for a clear, thorough planting calendar for years and was so excited to come across yours. I am in Zone 6b–Louisville, KY, USA–and am wondering how the planting dates might be adjusted. Average last frost is mid-late April and average first frost is mid-October. It doesn’t seem to be as simple as just moving things a couple of weeks…or is it that simple?
    Thanks, Sarah

    1. Hi Sarah and you make a perceptive point.
      We need to differentiate between cold tolerant vegetables & herbs with frost resistance – peas, onions, lettuce, spinach, coriander etc – and plantings which are killed by frost, like tomatoes, and positively require heat to grow, like pole and bush beans.
      I would sow the former maybe a week earlier or at the same time, and the latter about two weeks earlier. That is in spring.
      In late summer and autumn generally, say a week or two later.
      From these guidelines, you can work out best dates through keeping notes and observing.

  52. Hi Charles,
    I love all your videos and books! Fantastic! Thanks for all the brilliant advice. I am a Somerset girl myself and have family there, but I have just moved to the Lot et Garonne, not far from where you have gardened before I believe. I have set up some beds to start off with this year with double layer of cardboard from the removal boxes) and well composted cow manure from the organic dairy farm across the road.(my soil is basically boulbene)…my question is how do you think your sowing and planting times in Somerset compare to mine here near Villeneuve sur Lot? Many, many thanks for your inspiration!
    Su

    1. Hi Su,
      How funny, and boulbene too, no dig is vital!
      I used to love spring and autumn there, summer less.
      Sow say two weeks earlier in spring, and two weeks later from July.
      Watch out for Colorado beetles and leek moth 🙂

      1. Thank you for the info! I will keep an eye out for the Colorado beetle (doryphore?)…and keep enviromesh on my leeks.
        I hope you are making the most of the glorious weather you are having! We have rain….which the garden needs.
        Thanks again and happy gardening
        Su

  53. I’ve watched most of your videos multiple times, combed through this site, and though I’m, an experienced gardener, you’ve taught me a lot.

    You just give away so much stuff! And I appreciate that, so want to buy something.

    So which book should I buy? What’s newest or has the most info I might find helpful, as opposed to being aimed at newbie gardeners?

  54. Hi Charles, so grateful for all your really informative videos, which are also really enjoyable to watch, alongside your organic gardening book. Not sure if you can answer all these questions: (1) You give 4 dates for planting lettuce throughout the year, with the final date for indoor growing, but is this needed if you are just harvesting outer leaves rather than hearts?; (2) I the afore mentioned book you give a plating date of Aug-early Sep for Winter Hardy White Lisbon Salad Onion, but on the packet it says Feb-Sep. Just wanted to check I definitely should’t sew any until Aug/Sep, as advice seems very different to packet (I know seeder sellers don’t get it right, but this seemed a big difference between advice); and (3) I’ve been listening to and reading your advice on companion planting, but also wondered if you had advice on what combinations to avoid? (e.g. I read crops like potatoes, peas and beans can create problems when planted near to certain other crops?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Ian
      1 The sowing dates are for leaf lettuce, to harvest almost 52 weeks of the year. For hearts sow more often and last sowing perhaps late July.
      2 Sorry to give that impression re White Lisbon Winter Hardy, can be sown from February.
      3 None to avoid, that is more about spacing, they take a lot of room.

  55. Do you have advice on where to find large quantities of compost in the us? The mushroom compost at the big box stores is just sand, and local nursery’s never seem to have enough. I am composting myself but it’s just a small 2 bay system and will only be enough for 10% of my garden. I’m in zone 8b/9a. I have a dozen raised beds and am planning on starting an annual compost mulch.

    Also if I have native soil in my framed beds mixed 50/50 with organic matter (peat moss, humus, manure) should I first mix in more compost, or just mulch with in starting this year?

    To clarify on some notes above, are there lettuce varieties that can take summer heat in zone 9a? We get up to over 100 F for almost a month it seems. Still sow in June? Under cover? I am growing lettuce from seed for the first time this year, when to germinate indoors?

    1. John, for manure you just have to ask around eg mushroom growers etc
      I always look to fill beds with compost/organic matter rather than adding any soil or dirt.
      Germinate the seeds out of sunshine and you will/may need a shade cloth over. Insect mesh can work.

  56. Hi! Thank you so much for sharing this! I just have one quick question: when you say “sow undercover”, do you mean indoor, or outdoor, but under fleece or something else which protects the seeds?

  57. I have watched your videos, purchased your diary and have my first no-dig garden well under way. Thanks for all the help there!

    Because I only have a limited garden space, I would like to also plant in containers. I’ve started my seeds in compost but is 100% compost a good fit for growing to maturity in containers or should I mix with something else? Does it depend on what I’m growing?

    What could be done with the container growing medium after the plant is done…..any recommendations on amending before using again? I’m assuming the “no-dig approach” of spreading compost on top may not be enough in a container?

    Appreciate all your help and look forward to your thoughts on this.

    1. I use 100% compost in pots and it works, it’s up to you though..
      Usually I spread compost on the garden after a year of container growing. For salads say, two years is possible.

  58. I’ve been gardening for many decades and just came upon your videos and website information a few weeks ago. I am so thrilled with your no dig wisdom and approach especially as I get older. What I am most appreciative of is your graciousness and enthusiasm in sharing your knowledge. But then that’s a true gardener, always wanting to share and learn as we do something we love so much. What a blessing you are. Wishing you health and well being for decades to come.

    1. Ah thanks Nancy, nice to hear and yes we are fortunate indeed.
      I want more people to feel that lovely connection.

  59. Charles, I am writing to you from Bend Oregon, on the West coast of the United states.
    I cannot tell you how much enjoyment and learning I get from watching your YouTube videos… thank you SO much for making them and posting them. They are wonderful.
    In a recent video you spoke of a Sowing Timeline document you had available on your website, but I cannot seem to find it.

    We have a very short growing season in Bend due to it’s altitude at 3,500 feet and cool evening.
    I’ve done some indoor sowing this year as well as experimenting with a cold frame.

    All my best and thank you so much.
    Ben

  60. Hi Charles,
    First of all thanks for all the great ideas and personal experiences you share with your audience without expecting anything in return.
    I’m a thorough newbee in gardening and since one year i’ve have the pleasure of renting a small 200 m2 garden plot in a community space just behind the Versailles chateau. After one year of false routes and errors on copying my fellow 90 gardeners, i started following your advices and beginning to realize the importance of not laboring the soil. As per your suggestion i designed the garden with culture zones and passages with woodchips. Since i do not have a big resource of providing large quantities of cardboard or hot compost, i’m trying with a mulch of culture zones with fresh horse manure, dead leaves and free hot compost from my local recycling center. And covered everything with 10cms of straw. In three months the clay/ hard soil has become soft with a heavy load of earthworms. The sad news is that i’m invaded by an army of pitiless slugs who had pleasure in savoring my spring lettuces and strawberries 🙁
    Since i don’t yet have a proper greenhouse i tried the window method as you suggested but unfortunately the stems are thinning out . So i’m have to find a quickfix to implement your seeding and propagation time lines.
    Anyways your videos are inspiring and you are certainly seeding and propagating new “No Dig” gardeners around the globe.
    Bravo and thanks a lot for your generosity and the time 🙂
    Jack (France)

    1. Salut Jack and full marks for effort and thinking.
      Slugs is one reason for using compost so I hope you can sort that soon, and the dry weather will help.

      1. Merci Charles,
        I’ve gone thro your videos for a right choice of Greenhouse, i found one but it doesn’t talk anything about any solar powered automatic thermostat/ventilation system to keep the temperature constant during very hot or cold weather. In your video you were talking about keeping the sowing in the house to germinate and then bringing to greenhouse for growth over a horse manure bed to keep the temperature around 20° on cold seasons. I wonder why you as marketing gardener choose this method rather than having something Pro. Is there any disadvantage you remarked on your long experience on those systems ? I’ld certainly appreciate your reply before going for one of those equipments.
        Merci encore et bonne journée !

        1. Jack, it’s because this is mainly a teaching garden, so a lot of things I do are not 100% “pro” as you put it. I explore and demonstrate possibilities.
          I don’t even have electricity in the greenhouse, and suggest that you do, those are good ideas for high value output such as bedding plants.
          For vegetables (low value) simple is good.

          1. Thanks Charles for your explanation.
            Cheers and hope to visit you in one of these days when we can start living normally as we used to in the past.

  61. Hi Charles,
    New garden 3 years ago, and now over 20 fruit and veg varieties on the go – the human virus thankfully hasn’t got onto my garden, and what a lift for the mind and spirit the garden has provided this past two months. Thanks to your enthusiasm for composting, I am pleased to announce my heap hit 60 C last week ….. However, struggling to get surplus compost in the lockdown, to feed my increasing area of beds, so have you any tips for areas needing compost when we can’t get enough 😬
    Loving your YouTube videos, and getting great use from my CD dibber!!
    Dave from Holywood

    1. Cheers Dave, nice to hear.
      No easy answer to that, shall address it in my next update.
      Well done on your own heaps!

  62. Hi Charles,
    Regarding not having enough of homemade compost for planted out vegetables
    Could it be possibly, l wonder to make up the difference with more liquid
    Feedings .

    1. That would help a little but compost brings so much more than just feed – long term food, slow release fertility, moisture retention, structure improvement

  63. Hello Charles,

    I’ve been watching all your videos! It’s so interesting! Please keep posting new videos all through the year! I have learned so much!!! I put into practise your main ideas ( sowing in clumps, no dig, propagation, composting… ) and it works! Thanks a lot! It’s great fun!

    Just one question:
    I have noticed that you never mention pepper and sweet pepper. Do you grow those crops or not?
    See you!
    Tim

    1. Well, i also noticed that there is no mention of growing sweet potato which is rather considered as one of the main items on year round food production from a home garden. Is there any hinderance in growing them in NO DIG soil ?
      It seems that one plant could produce up to 3 kgs of food.
      Thanks and Regards,
      Robin from Miami

      1. Hi Robin
        It’s because the timeline is based on what grows in temperate climates.
        Just for example, in most of the UK the summer is too cool for sweet potato.
        They grow well in no dig soil, and take some digging for the harvest.

  64. Hello Charles,

    Just a little question for you. In your timeline you mention “winter brassicas” to sow undercover in May. What do you have in mind exactly when you say “winter brassicas? cabbages? kales? cauliflower? brocolis? turnips? beetroots? I’m asking this question because you mention precisely to sow undercover in June beetroot, kale, purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower for both autumn & spring, calabrese for autumn harvests. I was wondering what you had in mind when you said “winter brassicas”. Many thanks

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