Sowing Timeline for Vegetables

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

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

I have included links to the lessons of my online course, From Seed to Harvest. Buying a lesson all about the vegetable you wish to grow will give you the in-depth knowledge you need to sow, care for and harvest your vegetables.

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.

For a beautiful reminder of when to sow vegetables, all year long, see my Wall Calendar for 2022. It sowing dates continue until autumn so it’s a good purchase even in summer, with lovely photos of my garden here, and it has no dig advice too.

Southern Hemisphere Sowing Guide

Prompted by the consistent demand, we have found time to modify my sowing timeline so that it works for the southern hemisphere! We have also added a few photographs from the 2022 Calendar. The sowing dates are grouped in blocks of 10 days, so three blocks per month: early. middle and late.
You can open and download it here: Southern Hemisphere Sowing Guide 2022

Highland Seedlings Sowing Schedule

Mairi Macpherson sent me her sowing schedule for Scotland, at 57° north, and has kindly agreed to allow me to add it here as a downloadable PDF document. It is an option for people in colder climates with a shorter growing season: Highland Seedlings Sowing Schedule

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. Sometimes also one says to plant garlic and potatoes!

  • 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.

Under cover and outside/outdoors

Seeds require more warmth to germinate than plants need to grow. I recommend sowing “under cover” 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

Know your vegetable types, by temperature

1 Plants which grow in  cold and survive frosts of say -6C / 20F, include peas, broad beans, onions, lettuce, spinach, brassicas and coriander.

2a Plants killed by frost include tomatoes and sweetcorn, but they tolerate cool conditions.

2b Vegetables needing steady warmth as well as no frost include runner/pole and French/bush beans, aubergines/eggplants and cucumbers.

In spring, sow the cold tolerant vegetables and herbs maybe a week earlier in a warmer climate than here, and categories 2a + 2b about two weeks earlier, if say last frost date is in April rather than (Homeacres) mid May.
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.

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

*Learn more about sowing in this module from my online Skills course – ‘Seeds, sowing and planting’ – now available to purchase at half price for £13*



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 video for more details.
*sow under cover Feb-Mar, then 1st June, mid July (these three sowings for growing outdoors), and early September for undercover lettuce in winter.


Best start date is after Valentines Day when light is increasing fast.

Sow under cover broad beans, spinach, lettuce, peas for shoots, onion, salad onion, early varieties of cabbage, calabrese, kohlrabi, cauliflower, turnips, radish, bulb/Florence fennel, parsley, coriander, dill. 

With warmth aubergine, pepper, chilli – sow these by the end of March

Sow outside garlic if not already


Sow under cover as for February plus peas for pods and beetroot.

Then celery and celeriac from mid-month. 

With warmth tomatoes – sow around mid-month for under cover cropping, melon at month’s end.

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


Sow under cover as for March (except its getting late for celeriac, sow asap), leeks, leaf beet, beetroot (all varieties), basil, chard and Brussels sprouts after mid-month, tomatoes for outdoor growing. With warmth and around or after mid-month, cucumber, courgette, squash, pumpkin, sweetcorn

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

In cool climates, all outdoor sowings and plantings will benefit from the warmth provided by covers such as horticultural fleece.


Sow under cover leeks, Brussels sprouts and winter squash in early May. At any time in the month, sow courgette, French and climbing beans, leaf beet, beetroot, chard, lettuce, kale, cabbage for autumn, salad onion, basil.

Swede at the end of May.

Sow outside same as under cover, also maincrop potatoes by early May, carrots, and parsnips with seedbed kept moist until germinated. 

After mid-month and at the end of May or early June in cold springs, sow cucumber, courgette, squash, pumpkin, sweetcorn.


Sow under cover beetroot, swede, lettuce, leaf beet, chard, kale, cabbage for winter, purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower for both autumn & spring, calabrese for autumn harvests, cucumber, basil.

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

Sow outside same as under cover, also carrots, plus cucumber before mid-June.


Sow under cover by the end of the first week, kohlrabi, beetroot and savoy cabbage. Before mid-month sow lettuce, leaf beet, chard, endive, chicory.

After mid month sow bulb/Florence fennel, chervil, coriander, land cress, wild rocket, and Chinese cabbage.

At month’s end in cool areas, spinach, mustards, pak choi, salad rocket, turnips.

Sow outside same as under cover, and carrots until mid-July.


Sow under cover claytonia, oriental leaves, salad rocket, turnips multisown and true spinach.

August is fantastic for sowing salad rocket, oriental leaves and spinach.

Before mid-August, sow chervil, coriander, dill, parsley and land cress, for autumn and winter cropping outside.

After mid-August, sow salads to grow outside through winter. Also spring onions and spring cabbage, for harvests in spring.

Sow outside same as under cover but approximately a week earlier. 


In the first week, sow under cover for outdoor planting to crop in autumn/winter, lambs lettuce, mizuna, salad rocket

In early to mid-September, sow under cover all salads for planting under cover , which include spinach, chard, mustards, and kale. These can also grow large for cooking.

Sow outside is the same seeds as under cover but a week earlier, with last salad sowings by 10th September outside.


Sow outside garlic – in fact you can sow it from the autumn equinox. You can also sow onion sets to stand as small onions through winter, but they may harbour mildew and then infect spring sown onions in May. Fortunately, spring onions sown in August of the White Lisbon type, do not carry mildew over winter.

Last sowings

Depending where you live, sow broad beans to overwinter as small plants from late October to early November. Sowing in December is possible too, both under cover and outside, likewise for garlic.

513 thoughts on “Sowing Timeline for Vegetables

  1. Hi Charles. I was wondering where the purple sprouting broccoli is on the sowing calendar?

    1. Hello Aaron, its 13th-14th and 21st-22nd June.
      If you want even bigger plants you can sow it now but June is my preferred time, for transplanting early to mid July

  2. Thank you so much for preparing a version of the timeline for the southern hemisphere! It is so useful for us here, fantastic addition. All the best for you.

  3. Hi Charles, I have started your method after a visit to your garden last year and have half of my full sized allotment waiting to be planted having had the cardboard and compost treatment. Not a weed in sight!
    I now want to start another area so how soon can I plant into the cardboard and compost? What do I do about roots of runner and French beans if I cannot dig them out? Likewise stems of cabbages after harvesting? Is there an ideal time of year to start the process ? I assume that cardboard is only necessary at the very onset?

    1. Carol, that is a good start, and if there is more than about 3in/7cm of compost you can start planting immediately after creating a bed, because the vegetables can grow initially in the surface compost.
      I don’t understand your question of why you want to dig out bean roots.
      Once you understand the process like this, any time of year is possible and I don’t want to say an ideal one because then I’ve noticed how people think they can’t do it at other times.

      1. I think the original questioner was worried about roots, which from my understanding with the no dig method, will decompose leaving wonderful pockets of air for roots of future crop to follow back down into the earth. I have yet to try this though. Only began a couple months ago, and my soil will require some seasons of regenerative techniques before I fully transition to no-dig. I opted for a partial dig to start.

      2. Hi Charles,
        Does this apply to carrots as well? Can you sow them immediately after putting down cardboard and let’s say 10cm of compost?

        1. Yes you can, however the carrots will not be long in that first summer. Check whether you really need to use cardboard, which is required only if there are many and very strong weeds. Otherwise 10 cm compost is enough to smother small weeds, and even lawn grasses

  4. Hi, where’s the link to the calendar for your own area? I only Seem to find the ones for southern and highland, or did I misunderstood something?
    Best reguards
    Mie, Southern Denmark

    1. Hello Mie
      We are not so advanced as that! I thought we were doing pretty well actually to have these variations, and we can’t offer the whole world, yet 😀

  5. Just tried to download the Highland seed schedule but having problems – just wondered if its my computer or the file (if you know!).
    Really enjoying gaining the knowledge and putting to good use at our allotment in Nairn. Many thanks.

      1. I couldn’t open either.
        I have a question I am in INDIANA, USA zone 5b, but my last frost is May I don’t usually plant till Mothers day to leave plants exposed. My first frost seems October also. So is it that you may have more of a mild winter that you are 8-9. My question is because or frost dates are similar.

        1. I’m sorry about that, we shall have another look!
          Yes the zonal classification is confusing in this respect because my climate is oceanic temperate, and you guess right that the winters are mild which makes for the high number. However we can have occasional frost until the middle of May, and then summers are not hot, with afternoons in the low seventies.

  6. I live in Akita, Japan, zone 8b, first frost early December, last frost late March. It snows unbelievably.

    How do you adjust it?

    p.s You’re very interesting.

    1. Thanks Daichi.
      How amazing that your months without frost are so many, yet you have the same zone number and it snows a lot! The zonal number is such a broad brush and vague approach, just to give an idea really.
      From what you describe, I would sow 3 to 4 weeks earlier through spring time and 2 to 3 weeks later from mid July. Roughly!

      1. I live in the next prefecture over from Akita. It’s the strangest climate ever. They do say we are in 8B but it’s not quite that simple because Japan is a seriously mountainous country so the microclimates are extreme. It ranges from subarctic to subtropical and everything in between. We have the same daylight hours as Kentucky, because we’re at 37N. Our first average frost is actually late October to early November, then late April for the last average frost. We have seriously humid summers and extremely dry winters buried in snow. It gets to -12 very regularly from January through February. Snow is still on the ground but melting fast in places as of just yesterday. I even get no fungal issues in winter in my lettuce greenhouses even without being able to open the sides because of snow because the humidity is less than 20%, but in the summer, the humidity is regularly 80%-90% and 30-35C. I’ve chatted with you a couple times in Youtube comments but you probably meet so many people you probably wouldn’t remember. Most recently about picking winter salads instead of cutting them for market gardens. Because I have indoor propagation space, your advice of starting 2-3 weeks early and stopping 2-3 weeks later has been pretty sound for me the past 3 years.

        1. Hello Brian, and thanks for your comment.
          That’s really fascinating about the microclimates, and also your latitude of 37 being so low compared to our 51, so at least you have good light levels in the winter, even if the frost is hard.
          I like your name which reminds me of that wonderful tomato variety, Sakura!

          1. Thanks for the response. The light levels are pretty good on paper, except for the shadow cast from the mountain I live at the base of. I lose sunlight on my main gardens at about 3PM in the winter.

            Sakura means cherry blossom in Japanese, the 2 kanji of my last name 櫻田 means cherry blossom orchard. It’s my wife’s family name.

    2. Hey Daichi, I have a little no dig farm called Shiwa GREEN Farm in Iwate near Morioka. You can follow his timeline pretty closely. I plant a couple weeks before and a couple weeks after most of the dates he lists here. However the snow here does complicate things a bit. I planted out radishes yesterday actually. If you don’t have a greenhouse though, you’ll probably have to wait a little bit longer and match Charles’ timeline more closely.

  7. I am a big fan of your videos and no dig method and have had incredible results with very little effort so far! This year I’d like to follow your timeline exactly and make notes on what works best for my region. I believe we are Zone 9b at the southern most tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia in Canada with a last frost date of mid April. My question is, how do I shift the dates from your timeline to reflect the conditions of my local climate? I’ve read this page through and am still feeling maybe I’m misunderstanding. If we take lettuce as an example, your earliest sowing is marked as Valentines Day, would I bump this 2 weeks earlier for my climate (seems really early!)? Or looking at plants like tomatoes or cucumbers, my seed packets suggest starting tomatoes indoors in March (which is more than two weeks earlier than your timeline) and cucumbers indoors in May (which is a few weeks after your timeline). Also do you have a pdf download of the timeline like you do for the Southern Hemisphere?

    I am growing in raised beds and start all of my seeds indoors (except carrot, potato, and garlic) under grow lights and transplant out under medium weight fleece.

    I’m grateful for any advice you might have!

    1. Hi Jane
      Nice to hear.
      There is no automatic formula for matching dates to zones because of how the zonal classification is somewhat random, and mostly based on last and first frost dates from what I can tell. For example my climate here is the same zone as in Texas! Yours I think is equivalent to Northern California.
      Therefore you need to use common sense and keep notes. Your climate is maritime temperate which is similar to here, similar temperatures mostly, and I would use similar dates I reckon, and not pay too much attention to seed packet dates!
      You can copy and paste!

      1. Thank you so much for getting back to me on this — very helpful indeed! Our climates are very similar and I look forward to using your timeline and comparing to what I’ve done in the past (based on seed packets)!

  8. I greatly appreciate your advice and followed up on it last year when creating a new no dig garden. This year I am hoping to get some early harvests and have been looking at your videos on pre sowing, planting out etc. I live in the Netherlands and received some seeds called Palmkool (Kale, Toscano Nero) for Christmas. Having searched the web for germination and planting out information, I have not seen this in your garden. Have you any experience with it?

    1. Hello Kate, I’m happy that you have a nice no dig garden all ready and waiting.
      Yes I do sometimes grow the Tuscan kale and like it very much, especially the shorter ones with fatter leaves because it varies a lot. My preference is to sow it in May for harvest late summer and autumn mainly. It’s not brilliant in winter and goes to flower even in February and March.

  9. Hi Charles -I have enjoyed many videos and have learned a lot from them – thank you for that !
    Going through this timeline for sowing and planting and my question to you is if I sow undercover/indoors and then move to a greenhouse according to approximately this time frame then the plants/seedlings could go into the garden when they are about 4 weeks old – that is from when they sprouted above the soil correct ? So, say the onion, lettuce, brassicas etc being sown inside on Valentine’s day and they sprout the 20th – they are good to be transplanted out on the 20th of March, is this what you are saying ? I understand that we all have to watch the weather and our own zone/growing conditions and that could fluctuate the plantings by a bit ! I am in Southwestern Ontario – zone 5b/6a Canada
    Thank you – I really do enjoy your videos !!!

    1. Thank you Kaye, this is nice to hear and you are right that it’s roughly 4 weeks from sprouting!
      In summer it can be two weeks but the first sowings take longer, when it’s colder and darker.
      In temperate oceanic climates such as here, transplanting outside by late March is possible, but only when using covers of say fleece/row cover.
      From what I know of your climate, I would sow onions early March and transplant by about 10th April, always with a cover over until spring installs.

  10. Just received the 2022 calendar. it’s great!

    Often “well rotted” manure is mentioned. From fresh, either FYM or horse, how long will that take? And how does one know it’s well rotted? I’m in the West Midlands.
    Many thanks for all the inspiration.

    1. Thanks John.
      The answer is hard to quantify and the best one can say is that well rotted manure is dark in colour, and reasonably even in texture, with not too much undecomposed bedding. It’s usually lumpy and imperfect looking, so knock out lumps with a fork while spreading any.

        1. Oh no, not at all Mike. I never heard that actually and even if it was saline, that would be fine because a little salt is excellent. It’s another myth that salt is bad but actually I think the quantities here must be very small because this is literally the first time anyone asked me this!

    2. Got your calendar -wonderful resource plus nice to look at:).
      I have been reading about “cold stratification” for some seeds. Does this apply to any veg seeds?
      Thank you!

      1. Hi Katie
        Thanks, and no!
        A small exception is garlic which will grow even planted after winter, but is then inclined not to differentiate into cloves

    3. Hi John,

      I’m up on Skye and regularly use manure less than a year old BUT preferably over. I find that what was produced one winter can be used on raised beds the next winter, if that makes sense. I’m sure others might say that is too fresh but we find it is fine.

      I’ve put in raised beds with fairly fresh manure (read: 4 or 5 months old) then covered with 3-4cms of bought compost and it’s been totally fine. It’s free & readily available and therefore less-than-perfect age-wise is better than the hundreds of pounds it would take to buy in compost.

      All the best & good luck!


  11. Hi Charles,
    I’ve discovered your work a month ago and I’m really exited about it.
    I moved to a new house a year ago (I live in Spain near Granollers-Barcelona, zone 9-10 ) and have been having trouble getting a potager going, the soil is sandy builer’s rubble and the summers are very hot and dry.
    On the bright side, I found nearby a farmer who gives away horse manure (I’m composting as much of it as possible as we speak).
    2 questions:
    Should I work the compost into the soil in the first year to improve the water retention, before moving on to no dig?
    What about using leafmold?
    Any other advice would be welcome.
    thanks and happy new year!

    1. That sounds promising apart from the state of your builders soil! I would not try and incorporate any compost, but you could try a little area to see what difference it made. Your plants can root mainly in the compost on top and then slowly into the soil below. It sounds like your soil needs every bit of organic matter and I would spread the manure first then leaf mould on top, no more than 10 cm.
      As soon as possible, so it settles before too much planting happens. In fact walk on it!

  12. Hi Charles
    I stumbled on your you tube channel just recently (wish I found it earlier would have saved a lot of effort )and can say they are very informative, In March 2021 I was lucky enough to lease an allotment I intend to have 12 10x5feet beds 9 of which have timber sides, and 3 I have not started yet, out of these beds 7 have been dug over (very back breaking) the site has not been used in 3 years so the ground is like concrete to dig. After discovering your channels I have decided that to rest of the beds are going to be the no dig approach, I`m having to purchase multipurpose compost (from DIY store (on offer so it works out cheaper) hoping these is ok to grow veg in. My question is how do you obtain so much compost for your site as I`ve tried using green waste and got very little compost from it, thank you again for your info and keep up the good work (Sorry for it being a long winded)

    1. Hi Adrian,
      That’s good you found my work and also a good idea to buy the discounted multipurpose compost, which will be absolutely fine as a bed addition on top of other compost or soil. I’m not sure what you mean by getting very little compost from the green waste, I guess you mean from your own heap.
      I would search online for your area and see who is selling dumpy bags of green waste compost or mushroom compost because they can get you going. In the longer term you do not need so much compost but it really helps to put on more at the beginning. You could put say 2 to 3 inches green waste compost, then 1 inch of the multipurpose compost on top.

  13. Thank you for all the information you provide! I moved to my rural acreage 4 years ago and have been trying to beat back field grass and bindweed. I found you via Google when I stumbled upon great soil under some cardboard I’d used to winter over bags of mushroom compost.

    I’ve been working my way through your YouTube channel but have a question I’ve not seen addressed. Gophers, I’ve tried traps in the garden and poison flares in the field but nothing seems to be working. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Debbie, and thanks for your feedback.
      We do not have gophers here thank goodness. Therefore I can’t help you too much but Elliot Coleman in Maine certainly does suffer them (see his book Winter Gardening I think) and he has methods for controlling them, using traps.
      I hope you can work something out and am grateful they are not here.

  14. A group of us started a no dig project last year. We’ve had a good crop but only have grown once in each bed. So now comes the billion dollar question crop rotation or not ????

    1. Hi James, as I often explain about no dig, soil remains healthy and nutrients stay available – so rotation is far less important than in dug or cultivated soil. I hardly rotate at all.

      1. Wow, something else you don’t have to worry about. Working out crop rotations has always done my head in.

  15. at the grand old age of 67 and after looking at your youtube vids for the last 2 years i am going to take the plunge and go no dig with veg i have not grown veg before only flowers and shrubs well the bottom half of my garden is getting stripped of all shrubs and flowers starting 1/11/2021 thanks for all the info on how to get started and ( wish my back all the best )
    thanks ted

  16. Dear Charles,

    I am just an unabashed fan. Retired now so spend so many hours in the garden I can’t imagine how I had time to work. The usda zones are hugely confusing to me because they practically focus on the winter temperature (when very little is growing) and neglect the relative heat within the zones. We are zone 7/8 in the northwestern US but our summer temperatures (except this year) are much cooler than friends in Virginia or Tennessee with same zones. Fortunately our local climate is much like yours so I can follow your lead!

    1. Hello Charles and Len:
      I live in SE Virginia, technically in zone 8a. Although winters are generally mild ( I’ve harvested peppers on Christmas) with last/first frost dates April 7/ Nov 15, summers are very hot (July — Aug Average hi/lo mid 80s/ low 70s). Cool weather vegetables for spring need to be harvested by early to mid June and for Autumn can’t be planted until mid September. I guess I should invest big in season extenders and quick growing varieties?
      Charles, I love all you’re videos and I’m taking your intro online course.


      1. Thank you Anthony for these weather details, it really does help to know what you are experiencing and how things can grow, because those summers are so different to what we have, in the same zone!
        Many of the seeds we sow in August or even late July, could work for you in early September I reckon. Sow in modules in the shade perhaps, for transplanting mid September.
        I hope you find the course useful.

  17. Hello Charles,
    I am a new convert to No Dig, having put in 6 new raised beds this way. Thank you! Everything is going well with both flowers and veg – apart from the persistent bindweed, which I have to pull out every day from every bed. I saw on your Instagram that you had the same issue in your potato beds.
    Do you have any advice, please?
    With thanks, Charlotte

    1. Good to hear, except that yes it can seem like an eternal bind!
      We keep pulling/use trowel to lever out, for two years.
      Or use black plastic, see new post.
      It stops growing from October to April.

  18. Hello. I am devastated. I lost all my 55 tomato plants to blight. I have grown tomatoes for many years and have never had this problem before. I live south of Paris and the spring and summer has been unusual wet with heavy rains. I grow my tomatoes in my garden without any protection. It is not possible to grow over 50 plants in my poly tunnel. I have now removed all of the plants and are going to burn them.
    Now to the question,
    I am very worried that this is going to happen next year. I have read that blight can survive in the soil. It is impossible to remove the top layer of the soil because this is my garden and I simply don’t have the money to buy new soil.
    Is there any organic treatment you can use on the soil to kill the spores?
    I will try blight resistant varieties next year…
    I hope you have ideas to solve my problem.

    1. Anna, I’ve just heard froma fellow gardener in the UK that this has happened toher too. We suspect that the ventilation in her polytunnel might have had something to do with it. I wonder if others are finding blight is a problem for them. I’ve been ok so far, but who knows how long that luck will hold.

    2. Anna,
      It’s no use to replace soil or burn plants. Phytophthora spores travel by air as well as in the soil. The most effective preventative measures are keeping your plants dry and using resistant varieties.
      Kind regards,

    3. Hi. Lots of blight about. A blog from rhs wisley suggests spraying with sodium bicarbonate solution after rain. The alkalinisation is supposed to help. I am seeing grey mould spots on tomatoe leaves in the polytunnel. Not much that I can do about ventilation but trying not to splash too much water about. Have removed a lot of leaves and am trying bicarb…..

      1. I removed affected foliage regularly, sprayed once with bordeaux mixture, pruned to promote good airflow, removed lower leaves and then sprayed a couple of times with sodium bicarbonate. I had to take out three or four plants, but have had a harvest from the rest, which is more than anyone else I know growing tomatoes outside on my allotments. The blight was slowed, although not defeated. However, I don’t know which of these preventative actions contributed to my relative success. Also, the harvest was between a half and a third as much as usual and some unblemished fruits were floury and tasteless, so I think the blight affected them. Like you, I’m trying some blight resistant varieties (actually nine varieties) next year to see what they taste like and whether they resist the blight whenever it arrives (hopefully very late!).

    4. Anna, you could try sowing Caliente Mustard 199 in late summer. It is a hot variety of mustard with excellent bio-fumigation properties to help combat soil pathogens. You grow it as a green manure to over winter. Chop it down in spring, 14 days before planting your next crop. Maybe use a lawnmower without the catcher box, and then quickly get the shredded leaves into the top soil where they will release their gas. Ideally roll the soil or tread on it to lock the gas into the soil for maximum bio-fumigation effect.

    5. In my neighborhood here in central Germany entire tomato crops were lost, including ten plants I had in the garden. BUT, those planted in our three-sided homemade tomato house fared much, much better. Most stems had some spots, and a few fruits succumbed. The majority of the crop was gorgeous. While I can’t offer a solid scientific reason for it I can tell you what I think. The shelter may be a factor, since at least 2 of my other gardening buddies in nearby towns who also plant in these traditional tomato shelters were able to salvage some of the crop. I think I had a bit more success because I spray the shelter, plants, and the soil with horsetail tea a couple of times a year, and have been doing it for about 6 years now. It is regarded by some (especially Biodynamic gardeners) as a good anti-fungal. I’ll leave you to do your own Googling on this subject.

    6. Phytophtera/blight spores do not survive in the soil, do not worry. Charles has video’s where he mentions composting blighted leaves, and then using that ‘blighted compost’ to grow perfectly blight-free tomatoes the next year.

    7. Maybe you can reduce the density (number) of your plants. The more air and light can circulate, the less pathogens can affect your population. In the end, better to have fewer health plants than lots of unhealthy.

  19. I have grown veg for most of my adult life, but still no-dig is a revelation and inspiration. Unfortunately, having moved to live in an urban area, my veg growing is now reduced to doing it in containers and planters on the roof terrace, and compost has to be made in a Hotbin. Have you any advice on how to do no-dig in 22 cm-tall planters? I am hugely enthusiastic to try this method in spite of this constraint. At the moment I grow what I can: tomatoes, French beans, runner beans, broad beans, cucumbers, potatoes, garlic, peas, radishes, lettuce…. I am ambitious to expand to brassicas but am not sure if the planters will be deep enough to accommodate the root system.

    1. Not sure Olga! Sounds shallow for brassicas like Brussels or cauliflower. Could work for medium size cabbage.

  20. Hi Charles, I have just started to study up again on organic agriculture /husbandry: I plan to retire and move back home to Austria and volunteer on farms ( as a girl I was told I would not be accepted as farmer or veterinarian).

    Thank you for all your online information and instructive show and tell videos.

    With no dig, I am a bit worried about the environmental effect of decomposing cardboard on soil, water, animal life, plants and thus also us. Cardboard (even more so if its recycled cardboard) will include dies/inks, chemicals, mineral oils (from recycled newspapers), and whatever else is used in making the original paper product, plus some coating material etc … and as a paper product and also a recycled product, we as gardeners cannot find out what is contained in particular cardboard before we use it. All of these materials will leach into the soil/water and thus impact animal, plant, and human life — and there is some research already available on leaching of cardboard (and newspapers etc).

    I would much appreciate your expertise in this. Thank you, Susanne

    1. Hi Susanne
      That sounds a good move! As for the cardboard I am intrigued that there is concern about this, particularly in the German-speaking world. Yet we live in environments which are full of pollutants. From what I know, the materials you mentioned in cardboard are not present in large amounts, and more than that I do recommend it to be used only once, and only in situations where there are masses of perennial weeds in particular. The cardboard decomposes within 8 to 12 weeks on average, showing how readily it is eaten by soil organisms. The glues are mostly starches and are eaten by soil fungi, according to Stanford university, and from cardboard being used only once, I see it as a very small concern.

  21. Charles, great info and my back also loves no dig!! Any thoughts on providing an online version of your diary that could also convert to local zones? I follow yours with some experience based knowledge of what grows when in 7a here in Massachusetts. Having something online is certainly harder to take to the garden but can be a lot easier to use for planning. Plus having something that converts to my locale saves valuable brain cells!! Great stuff and keep on teaching.

    1. Thanks Steve. glad you are benefitting.
      I probably shan’t do anything like this, because I have some issues with zonal classification where it’s very broad brush. Here for example we are zone 8, the same as Texas!

      1. What coincidental bliss! I am brand new to all sorts of planting. I’m in a suburban tract in a rural area in Central Texas. My USDA Hardiness zone is 8a/b. My summers are long and much hotter than yours at Homeacres,

        I am happily educating myself and planning a vegetable patch in the back yard for next year. I have begun to make compost and to plan my first beds and plants (from my usual market shopping list! I figure I should grow what we eat here at home. ) Thank you so much for your kindness in sharing your knowledge.

  22. Hi Charles! Firstly, thanks so much for all your vids, books etc I’ve learned so much and can’t wait to learn more!
    I’m about to start a new veg bed with no dig, I know from previous beds I’ve dug there are these massive thick roots (don’t know what they are or where they come from) about two spade depths below surface, about 1 or 2 inches in diameter…. should I remove them before applying the mulch or will it be fine to leave them there undisturbed for ever?! Cheers, Alex

    1. Hi Alex, and that sounds like tree roots. However normally there will also be smaller roots coming up from them and gathering food plus moisture at the surface, in which case your no dig bed may not be so successful, because those roots will slow down the growth of your plantings. There must be some trees nearby and I’m sorry not to be too positive about it.

      1. Ah ok there’s a lovely big oak tree next door and we have quite a big cherry so that might be the reason then! If I cut them out of the bed would that damage the tree?

          1. instead of cutting the living roots how about combing no dig with viking mound culture known as Hügelkultur. its not very pretty but it works. due to having the very wet end of a clay soiled allotment I had to make raised bed to improve the drainage. in one bed I chucked left over bits of wood, chopped up tree logs and twigs then i put a layer of compost on top followed by fish blood and bone then another layer of compost. everything I put in that bed grows and grows. As the wood rots it acts as a sponge for water which helps in droughts and gives back goodness to the soil,but it also helps to fill your raised bed so you dont need to fill it with as much so you can just layer more compost on top when you need to which should help.

          2. Happy New Year Charles and team! Been following you for a couple of years and we have your book How to create a new vegetable garden. We moved to Tuscany last year (half an hour from Pisa) and I’m confused about what climate zone we’re in, despite googling! Is there a definitive resource out there you recommend?

          3. Hi Susie and that sounds an adventure.
            Climate zones are a little confusing and I refer to mine mainly for the benefit of American gardeners who use them a lot. For example I am zone eight, the same as Texas!
            You may also be eight and the main thing to know is not so much that, but more your last frost date and first frost date. Then talk to your neighbours and find out what grows best!
            For numbers look up USDA climate zone

  23. My girlfriend and I bought our first house last year. I built 2 raised beds in the garden and filled with compost. I bought your dairy, seeds and compost – and now we are eagerly awaiting the growth (and warm weather)! It’s already bringing us much joy.

    I look forward to the release of your YouTube videos which help me aim to get thing right based your experience – it does feel like cheating :-p

    Here’s to 2021,

    Steve in Kent, UK.

  24. Just starting my first no dig garden based on your methods. My garden soil was totally depleted and weedy. Plus, I’ve become an advocate of no-till farming, and your methods are perfect for translating that ideal into my little organic garden. Thank you.
    Have you ever figured sowing and planting dates for other zones? I live in zone 4, northern Great Lakes in the US. Last frost could be late May, although like you, we’ve had a very cold spring. (Last killing frost I’ve ever experienced was June 24! Not a happy gardening episode) Earliest fall frost is supposed to be September 5, although global warming has extended that date by 7-10 days.
    Thank you for every video you’ve posted and for any suggestions you might have regarding sowing and planting in my northern clime

    1. It depends partly what you want to grow, but generally I suggest sowing four weeks later in early spring, two weeks later in April, same in My-June, a week earlier July and up to 4 weeks earlier from mid August.
      Nice you are embracing no dig at home

  25. Hello Charles,

    first of all: thank you for providing so much valuable information for (market) gardeners.
    Unfortunately I cannot start tomatoes, peppers and eggplants inside (mold sensitivity) and was wondering if it is possibly to start them in a covered hotbed in early/mid March (zone 8a).
    What do you think?
    Thank you very much in advance!

    1. Cheers Simon, sorry to hear that and in theory yes you could do that, but my experience with outdoor hotbeds was the wind blows a lot of the warmth away. And it’s not that simple to make a wind shelter when they are four feet high! Maybe worth a try….

      1. Wow, I didn´t expect such a fast answer. Thank you! I have seen versions where the manure is placed in a hole so that only about a foot / 30 cm (frame + covering) is above the ground. I will either do that or build the hotbed in my greenhouse. Thank you again!

  26. Hi Charles
    Been using your winter veg book to try and extend the growing season. It’s been amazing what has survived the winter and how much we have continued to harvest over that time. Sowed more radduccio end of July after lots of success from earlier sowings last year. Do I understand correctly that this will not heart up but can be used for leaves? Also sowed Florence fennel as per sowing timeline in February, just pricked out. Will this bulb up and when should I put it out? Thank you so much for all the info you share. Have so much joy in my plot.

    1. Nice to hear Mandy.
      Yes any chicory in the ground now will not make a head or heart, but will soon flower so it won’t give leaves for very long.
      Bulb fennel needs to be planted in April really, but from planting now it should still make a bulb by midsummer

  27. Hi Charles, I live near a river so my garden is prone to flooding perhaps 2 or 3 times a year over winter and spring, usually for a couple of days at a time. Are there any vegetables I can grow that will survive this?

    1. Probably not salads Jackie! But apart from that I would say anything should survive, if it is no more than 2 to 3 days.

      1. Our garden backs onto ancient flood meadows in Stafford, and is usually ok as the fields are slightly lower than the garden. However it has crept in a couple of times over the past 5 years and one one occasion the raised beds were flooded, particularly the one with Parsnips that were just coming into their own. They were underwater for about 3 days, and after digging a couple they did seem fine. However from experience I do know that during periods of heavy rainfall many sewage treatment plants become inundated and as a result untreated effluent can be discharged directly into a water course. As a result all of the Parsnips were removed and discarded (it was a sad day). It might be best to check your local river to see if there are any outfalls above your location.

  28. Hi Charles ~ I’m new around here – and look forward to learning lots. I read today, some comments about planting tomato plants on their side in order to strengthen the root system – is this something you would agree with? I thought it would snap the stems. ~ Mo

    1. Thanks Mo, and this sounds like an unnecessary extra! Personally I find that the root systems are very strong, from normal planting

  29. Hi Charles,

    I’ve loved following your YouTube channel, so much so that I’ve got my own allotment this week! I have no idea how to find my Hardiness Growing Zone (based in Jersey Channel Islands). Do you know how I could find this out?

    1. Nice to hear this Sarah, and if you put in Search your postcode, or just Jersey, with hardiness zone, it will come up.
      Bear in mind that they are approximations and they overemphasise last and first frost dates. I estimate that you are zone 9. But that is the same as N. Florida, so obviously summers are way less hot for you, and us.

  30. Hi Charles, I see you don’t use straw as a cover on the soil. I live at 7400 feet(2255m) and it is very dry, I feel like I couldn’t get away with out it. Is there something I am missing? If I just do no dig with cardboard, would that suffice?


    1. Thanks for your comment Joseph, and the difference in our approach is because here it is normally damp, with rain or some rain every month. If I used the straw, that would see slugs accumulating in the dampness underneath it. I have tried straw mulch and that is what happened!
      In your climate, using straw mulch makes perfect sense, and I hope you have some rain soon!

  31. Hey Charles,

    Absolutely love all your videos and can’t wait to one day own an acre or less of garden. So I’m learning from your videos for the future I suppose.

    I’m a South African living in Berlin, Germany zone 7b. We currently live on the 10th floor of an apartment building and have an ample 8m2 exposed balcony with a full Southern view and semi-shade from the balcony above.
    Naturally not able to use the no dig method as our balcony is just solid concrete, so have opted to build a bunch of raised pallet planters of an average depth of 30cm and a soil capacity of between 50 and 120L, plus with a layer of fleece over the top and a layer of thick pond liner on the inside.
    We also have a number of hard plastic germination trays with domes and a nice long South facing window sill.

    We’re trying an assortment of different veg and herbs. Very excited!

    Wondering if you have any advice for us. What should we be concentrating on growing? How does your planting calendar differ for zone 7b?
    And concerning the future, what do you think is more important to first have? Greenhouse or polytunnel? Especially considering our shorter growing period here.

    1. Good to read this Jonny, you are adapting well!
      1 Grow what you want to eat
      2 Needs to be less space demanding vegetables – carrots, beetroot, onion family, all salads and most herbs, bulb fennel, celery, spinach. Loads of choices.
      3 Sow a week later spring and week earlier from late summer.

    1. Sow 4 weeks later until end March, then about the same, sow 4 weeks earlier from early August, approximately

  32. Thank you for my latest Newsletter, Charles. Just a quickie, please; I have 120 Sturon onionbulbs to plant in my allotment raised bed. Each day threatens with frost at the moment but could I safely plant them today , perhaps under fleece?

    Many thanks


    1. Yes Roger for sure, you can plant those know and they are better in the ground in fact, will not be killed or harmed by first

    1. Do końca marca wysiewać 2-3 tygodnie później. Od kwietnia (teraz) to samo. O ile po połowie maja nie wystąpią przymrozki, wysiej 1-2 tygodnie później w tym miesiącu

  33. Bonjour Charles,
    Merci pour ta vidéo en français car je ne comprends pas beaucoup en anglais.
    Je suis en parisienne et j’ai essayé de suivre tes conseils pour préparer les lits avec carton, compost et brf.
    Tout marchait bien mais début printemps j’ai transplanté mes brassicacées ( choux rouge, choux kale, choux chinois et pok choi) et les ai couvert avec un voile comme t’as montré dans tes vidéos mais la chaleur et gel tout a été détruit car pendant la nuit il faisait -5°c et dans la journée il faisait 25°c à l’intérieur des voiles… peux-tu nous expliquer comment mieux employer les voiles et quelle qualités ou les liens internet pour les en acheter en bonne qualité. Car il semble que tu ne les enlevais pas pendant la journée donc, ça doit être respirant pour ne pas surchauffer les jeunes plants.
    En plus, les lits semble trop secs tout le temps, donc est-ce-que ta méthode est adaptable au climat parisienne car nous aurons deux mois très secs durant l’été.
    Merci pour ton conseil précieux 🙏
    Dieu te bénisse 🌞

    1. Bonjour Nelly, je suis désolé que cela s’aient passe.
      J’imagine que ton compost doit être trop neuf ou fraiche, donc il ne retient l’humidité.
      Ce temps est extrêmement pour les petite plantes et on voit maintenant qu’il aurait fallu arroser chaque jour pendant un tel chaleur, vu le compost.

  34. Hello,
    I have never grown leeks before, but I’ve been inspired by your brilliant videos to give them a go. I am in Carnoustie (frost dates similar to you at Homeacres, with a dry, windy, sunny garden). I am thinking that I will put them in to follow either my peas (Hurst greenshaft) or my french beans (cobra and sunshine). I can see from the timeline that I should have them sown by end of May, but I am a bit confused about when I should be looking to plant them out. Should I interplant as soon as they are ready? Or wait until the previous crop (peas/beans) are finished? Many thanks for your thoughts! Kate

    1. Nice to hear this Kate, and I would wait until peas / beans are finished before transplanting your leeks.
      However this could be late summer in your area and therefore you need to put on the leek plants, so they keep growing and are quite big at transplant stage.

  35. Charles, thank you for sharing your expertise!

    We have a garden that was tilled a few weeks ago with some broccoli and peas already in it (Zone 7a in Virginia, US). I was going to wait until the end of this year to convert to no dig, but I’m wondering if I can start working it in now. My thought is to lay cardboard throughout the tilled garden and mulch thickly with local compost around the existing plants, and then I suppose I would add a layer of compost again at the end of this year for next year. Would something like this work, or should I handle the transition differently?

    1. Sounds good Kira. and even you don’t need to apply cardboard, which is only for when weeds are thick.
      Just rake level, spread 2-3in compost and you are underway!

  36. Big thanks to you Charles from The Netherlands! This spring we started 30m2 no-dig raised beds in our backyard. I’m getting tremendous pleasure and value out of the online courses. After transplanting the month old seedlings to the beds we covered them with fleece. For this we used your recommended 30g per m2. However, water doesn’t seem to be coming through easily, resulting in puddles that lay heavily on the seedlings. Is this a problem you have encountered before? Should we get a thinner\lighter fleece row cover?

    1. Hi Kamiel, nice to hear except for the fleece.
      When new, it does shed water more, until the shiny surface wears off.
      I do prefer 25gsm but it is not available here. And the other option of 17gsm falls apart within a month or two.

  37. Hi Charles
    I know your good with facts and myths so can you please help i have read online you shouldn’t plant onions or shallots etc near beans or pea as you will have a bad crop of beans/peas is this true and if so how far apart is safe to plant i have a 1/4 size allotment and trying to fit everything in is not so easy so I’m trying to follow your videos to help me out (sorry if I missed this) many thanks and I’m looking forward to follow along with the new land you just got how exciting
    Thanks Michelle

    1. It’s not true, in my experience.
      Always, anyone writing something like that should base it on why this might be the case, otherwise anyone can say anything at all. A possible reason in this case could be that they grow strongly at the same time. However that would affect the onions more than the peas and beans. I would call this a myth.

  38. Hello. Since last March when I discovered your No Dig videos, I’ve been converting my suburban yard in Sacramento, CA, to food production. I’ve gardened all my life, but the No Dig method has changed everything for me. One question: when converting lawn to garden, I’ve been removing the sod in order to get rid of the nasty plastic netting that is underneath. Is this necessary? I don’t like taking up the sod as it disturbs the soil, but I didn’t know if the plastic netting would impede root crops. Thanks for being an inspiration during this difficult pandemic!

    1. I am happy to know that you are making good progress.
      Much as I dislike digging, I would do the same as you, to remove that horrible netting. It will not help larger roots and may in the end decompose to small pieces of plastic.

    2. I too just discovered your No Dig Videos. Do all sod have a plastic netting underneath? I see some people put a weed barrier landscape fabric down before the compost. What do you think about that?

      1. I think that all kinds of plastic cover or net membrane which lie in the soil, underneath soil and or compost, are a bad thing!
        Please do not use any and if you find some in the soil, I do recommend that you dig them out! They are a barrier to roots and soil organisms, and slowly degrade.

  39. Hi Charles, thanks for this fantastic info. Im just wondering why from about May onwards, you suggest undercover, and then also outdoor sowing for the same things. Im wondering which you choose, or do you do both, and if so, why? Wouldnt it be easier to just sow outside only, to save having to later plant things out? Any advantage to undercover and then planted out, as opposed to just outdoor sowing?

    1. Under cover is more reliable, all year round with fewer pests for example, particularly flea beetles and caterpillars on brassica seedlings, and slugs on lettuce et cetera. Have a try yourself and see the difference.

  40. Hello Charles, I’ve only discovered you recently and I’m already in love with your voice and the way you explain things. I’m binge watching your videos full of ideas and valueable information. Thank you for that, great job! Now, I have a question. I’m pretty new to gardening and would like to follow some timetable before I figure out my own. How should I adjust yours when I live in the Czech Republic? How do I find out my zone? Thank you in advance for your help, stay healthy and have a great season!

    1. Thanks Michaela, quite similar timings esp from April, maybe start a week or two later in February, and sow a week earlier from August

  41. Maravillo👏👏👏 , podrías subir una versión en Español para el Hemisferio Sur.
    Un abrazo desde Chile

  42. Hi Charles. I have just ordered your 2021 calendar and have already started indoor sowings of tomates, leeks, peppers etc. I have a fair sized poly tunnel which I got secured with strapping before the big winds last week. As a complete amateur I, with the sometimes assistance of my grandsons have managed to grow lots of veg suitable for eating fresh and freezing. As I retire I am hoping that your calendar will spur me on to grow more and use the raised beds that we built to their full potential. Thank you for your great You-tube videos which are a great source of information.

  43. I have gardened for years but moved to a new zone a couple years ago,and now I feel lost. Because my season is shorter 5b. I installed a polytunnel to extend my season. The ground has never frozen in there but the temperature swings are huge! From over 100 degrees daytime (so I have to open it up,) to single digits at night. Is there a rule of thumb as to when to plant transplants in the tunnel? How low night temps can they take? the garden outside the tunnel have frosts late may, and last year I lost plants on June 9th that were planted a few days earlier. Most seeds don’t mature early enough to harvest before fall frost so I mostly start indoors and transplant.
    I’m anxious to get an earlier start in the tunnel.
    But how much earlier?

    1. That sounds a challenge! However vegetables like cabbage, spinach, lettuce, salad onions, and also herbs like coriander, can’t stand frosts at night. I don’t know the lower limit and it sounds like you need to try a few things to see.
      But with those vegetables, I would expect success. Probably beetroot and carrots too.
      And yes you have to sow zucchini etc much later.

      1. Charles, is that a typo? I thought cabbage, spinach, lettuce, salad onions, and also herbs like coriander, COULD stand night frosts?


    2. Wrndy in Utah: Oh, those late frosts!

      For season extenders, try one of Eliot Coleman’s books on four-seasons and winter gardening. He uses a high tunnel with winter row covers inside the tunnel; plus outdoor gardening, extending the season with row covers. You’ll find lists of vegetable varieties and temperatures they’ll tolerate, growing/harvesting calendars for different cover methods, and details for simple builds. Also, how many weeks a cover method will effectively put you in a warmer growing zone. Coleman farms in Maine, USA, he’s studied French produce gardening, antique and contemporary.

      Charles has a comprehensive video on row covers, for cold, through bugs and birds. I found row covers on Amazon, though the weights in the US are different. I’d use medium to heavy for cold protection, but it does cut down on light transmission.

      Best wishes for a good growing season!

    3. We lived and gardened in Salt lake for 16 years. I had great success with planting out early in low tunnels, but you must take care to only plant out hardy varieties like brassicas and some greens. The temperature variations and the alkalinity were a big challenge. I do think no dig will help a lot with those issues. I never saw a snail or slug and if that’s the case in your location, try laying down as thick a layer of mulch as you can to keep the soil at a more stable temperature. I don’t know where you are in Utah, but in SLC there is a wonderful Master Gardeners group that could probably advise you as to specifics on local dates etc. You definitely need to get growing before June, summer is so short and brutally hot! Good luck!

  44. Hi Charles
    i am based in Nottingham and am following your timetables with a few days later to accommodate for my weather I guess. I have a £15 staging that I got from B&Q which is doing wonders for keeping all the module trays indoors for a couple of weeks or more before I put them in my small greenhouse outdoors. Just wondering about the Chillies. I have sowed them in the CD60 trays i managed to get from Containerwise…i have put them on a hot mat off Amazon. I do see that the tray dries out very quickly. what is the best way to water it when it looks dry?


    1. Hi Akif
      Nice to hear, and maybe your Hotmat needs to be set cooler. They can be quite violent and dry the compost from below, so you don’t notice until it’s too dry, then it’s difficult to wet again

      1. Hello Akif,
        I’m in the Nottingham area as well. Are you a member of the Nottingham Organic Gardeners? Hope so.

  45. Hello Charles,
    thank you very much for all your work! I’ m “addicted” to the online courses. I discovered your work only in March last year, 3 beds already dug for weeds then, on the fourth I then put carton and horse manure – and what shall I say – it worked! The Brussels sprouts have never been bigger! This year almost no weeds within the beds, so much less effort.
    Unfortunately we had put gravel on the pathways (60cm) between the beds – always full of weeds, bedsides are metal. Would you recommend putting wood chips on the gravel for all the reasons mentioned in the courses?
    Greetings and all the best from Stuttgart, Germany

    1. Hi Erika, thanks for your nice feedback. Your results make me happy.
      A pity as you say about the gravel. If much is there, I would rake some off before cardboard (if weedy) then wood chip on top.
      If only a little gravel, you could leave it there.

  46. Just a quick question. Where I am creating my no dig beds is a close to a stream that floods – this doesn’t mean it floods where the beds are but does get very wet in winter. I’m in West Cornwall. Would you suggest using some sharp sand at the base of the bed to encourage drainage?

    1. Ah no Mike, this is a huge myth. Sand and gravel in soil mess things up no end, for example perched water tables and sticky mixes of clay and gravel which are like concrete! Plus they are dead material.
      Organic matter is always the answer because it encourages earthworms, who help drainage.
      Or if you are still worried, look at drainage of the whole site somehow. I doubt this is worth it though

  47. Happy Valentines day dear Charles. I’ve given your 2021calendars to gardening friends as Xmas presents and we all are attempting restraint in sowing anything but what you are recommending. As we are further north near Nottingham, we will be even more cautious. I’m not using a windowsill but a small table adjacent to big double-glzed patio doors, and a propagator.

    Looking forward to this year’s enlargment of my compost heaps. Pallet size seems slightly too small to get really hot except in the summer.

    Looking forward to courses 3A and 3B.

    1. Ah thanks Suella, that sounds like a nice community of people.
      Good that you are not rushing! Keep well and have a nice day 🙂

  48. Hi Charles

    Thanks for all your brilliant and inspiring work – this is my go-to site for almost everything these days (well, gardening wise!)

    I have an allotment with an unheated polytunnel. Would it be possible to start off tomato, cucumber, courgette, squash seeds etc in the polytunnel from the start? Or would it be better to start off in the house and then transfer them once germinated? tricky as not much windowsill space and easier to start where they’ll grow on if it is possible…


    1. Thanks Owain, and definitely the first week at least in your house.
      Germination needs warmth at that point, and not daylight. Don’t sow too early!

  49. I live in Georgetown SC in the states sone 8B. I have bought your book on no did from amazon and have been gardening for over 10 years. I have gotten rid of my boards for square foot gardening and went to no dig. I have made 14- 28 foot beds that are 4ft wide. My last frost date is mid-March which is around 2 months earlier than yours. I also experience much hotter summers here but I am influenced by an onshore breeze that tempers my zone. I’m only 15 minutes from the coast here. August is the hottest time of the year for me and it typically reaches around 100 degrees Farenhight. The shoulder months are very similar to where you live with almost no snow. I was thinking I can get plants out 1 month earlier in the early spring and my fall plating would be around the same time as yours. I do struggle with brassicas as it gets hotter. Have you ever used shad cloth to extend lettuces and or brassicas? Your thoughts kind sir. I love your videos and have seen them all. Some day I would love to visit Englad and see your Home Acres.

    1. Very nice to hear from you Edward and I do like the sound of your climate, the warmth! But too hot also in summer.
      Yes I would sow four to five weeks earlier in spring and then from July, a month later, even six weeks later for a few things maybe. Hope to meet you one day!

  50. Thank you as ever for your wisdom and knowledge….your 2021 calendar is up and a focus for the year ahead!
    Do you have any advice/link to how you make your make germination hotbed?
    And due to limited space in our greenhouse, would it work creating one that was narrow long, on a bench, rather than your deep one?

    1. Thanks Cliff, and it needs a certain volume for there to be sufficient heat and for a sufficiently worthwhile time. I reckon more than a cubic metre and mine is 1.2 x 1.2 in width and up to 1.5 m in height, that is 4 ft.² and 5 feet high. It could work a little smaller but if you have electricity to your greenhouse that may be a better bet.
      The video about making my hotbed is in course 2, module three I think, sowing and a propagation. I am hoping to put a small one on Instagram and YouTube in a week or so, maybe once it warms up a bit!

      1. Thanks Charles for your thoughtful and quick reply! Yes it does seem that yours and others I’ve looked at UTube etc, all have that depth. I think I’ll have to make do with fleece and old sleeping bag material to help the heat for now, especially as the greenhouse is windy and not heated!
        Look forward to seeing the results of your smaller heat bed!
        Best wishes

  51. Hello Charles, I’ve been growing veg, herbs and fruit for coming up to a year now, and been following your website, videos and books avidly. Really enjoy your videos, and so appreciate what you do to make growing so accessible to people. A few rather specific questions have cropped up over the months that I didn’t know where to post, so I hope you don’t mind me asking here: (1) I’ve been trying to source around 20m of 4mm high tensile wire that you say you can make your own hoops out of, and have only been able to find it in 250m+ roll lengths – if you know anywhere on-line where I can source smaller lengths then would be great to know; (2) We live in SE London and have cats coming into our garden all the time, and whilst the mesh is off they seem to prefer to poo in the no-dig beds / children’s wood-chipped play area. One neighbour told me she used some lion spray which worked well, but I wondered if you had any advice for keeping them at bay?; and (3) Do you by any chance have any idea whether there is an organic treatment for getting rid of Winter Helitrope which is all under and around our pond. I keep removing rhizomes as far as I can, but the system is under and around the pond, and it’s tiring to keep removing them.

    Many thanks


    1. Chilli powder works well to discourage cats. If you don’t remove the poo but scatter it liberally with chilli, when the animal returns it will be immensely discouraged! Also other animals won’t “challenge” it by adding their poo. Best done when it is dry of course, and needs renewing after a few days or if it has rained. I buy the cheapest, hottest chilli powder I can – but watch out for even a light breeze when you scatter it!

  52. I grow beans and tomatoes along the same walled beds and want to know whether I could utilise them for Kales, Collards and sprouting broccoli over winter/spring if I sowed August and planted September next to them before they finish?

    1. In principle yes, in detail it depends on your climate and latitude so you need to work that out and see how things grow. Aim to have 4 to 6 week old trans plants ready to go in the ground as soon as your beans and tomatoes are finished. You may need to water quite heavily at that point. Make sure you have the correct type of broccoli for popping in late winter to early spring.

  53. Hello Charles!
    Thank you for the inspiration and dedication to gardening. I have academic degrees in Soils and Horticulture and thoroughly enjoy your books and videos. It helps me push the envelope and think outside the box. I have hardened my whole life (nearly 45 years) but I find the climate I have lived in the last 18 years to be the most challenging for gardening. I live in the coastal rainforest of Alaska which is very mild. Temps rarely get above 70 F in the summer and the winter the temps stay in the 30-45F range (with few dips into the teens and rarely single digits). We receive 120 inches of rain per year on average so rather wet. But my last average frost date is May 1st and first fall frost is around the 17th of October. Minus the rain, I find the growing seasons with Somerset somewhat similar to mine so it has helped me utilize and push the boundaries on what I can grow year round. I have a greenhouse (soon to be two) for warm weather crops. I have about a quarter acre I can fully utilize for gardens (probably more as the years progress). I look forward to planting broad beans this spring and fall for the first time! Since I live on an island, I have no access to buying compost so I have to rely on building what I have. Luckily, I have access to kelp and seaweed, wood chips from our personal mill, and manure waste from our animals. Thank you for helping me think of new ideas in the challenging climate I garden in!

  54. I bought some Dalefoot composts this winter in prep for spring. I started sowing chilli pepper seeds a few days ago in a propagator using their seed compost and there is mold or some type of whitish grey fungus growing in the compost – should I be worried? Will it stop the seeds from sprouting? It covers the whole top of the seed tray.

    1. Katherine there must be something still decomposing in the compost, wool or bracken! I sometimes notice it in sacks of old compost and that is not a problem, I think it will be fine.

      1. Thanks Charles, I spoke with Dalefoot and it is all good, should not affect seedlings and as a matter of fact, lettuce, kohlrabi, aubergine, thai and jalepeno peppers, fennel seedlings all doing well. Used their seed compost to germinate and potting compost to pot on.

  55. I,m enjoying everything ,Ive learned much from you Charles. As a child I ran barefoot in the garden &fields. Now at 70 don”t run so well. Bought a home in Idaho,USA,used a 16 oz Stanley Hammer and a spike to make a 6inch deep hole to plant in. soil had not been touch in 53 years, this is my 2nd year of no dig, five min of weeding time all year,canned 60 qt. tomatoes, 36 pints carrots, 28qts green beans, planted late. I,m amazed how well your system works, first time I have ever got parsnips to grow. You are a insperation to many all around the world!! I am starting a group of children to learn your methods of planting, with hands on learning, they got to sample peas. beans,squash, pumpkin pie, these youngens from 4 to 10 years of age will have a life time of good food, and beautiful gardens, Thank You Charles!

    1. Ah Sharon you genius, that sounds amazing and I am so happy to have helped you inspire the next generation, and to feed yourselves so well!
      Keep up that great work 💚

  56. Hi Charles,

    Beginner gardener, hoping to develop a vegetable garden here in rainy Glasgow, Scotland. Not sure how your methodology will pan out here (re weather) but I have already prepped a third of our garden space (40 square meters) as no dig, cardboard on compost (Oct/Nov 2020). Also started own compost last summer 2020 ready for winter 2021.

    Only error/difference (re slug pests) I have identified thus far is my use of railway sleeper borders but this was both a drainage and aesthetic issue. The next area to be developed will be more in line with yours, once slug issue has been addressed. Climate here really does encourage slugs on steroids, so hopefully your technique will help reduce their impact e.g. less hiding places.

    Charles, your videos are an inspiration to both novice and experienced gardeners alike. Your continued experimentation, development of new strategies and techniques in home gardening and passing that information on to us all, “building on the shoulders of giants”.



    1. Hi Derek, lovely to read this except about the slugs!
      I appreciate your comments and I am grateful to have the means to share my knowledge and to inspire a new generation of gardeners, such as yourself.

      Good luck with the weather and working out side-free beds 🥕

    2. Hi Derek,

      Well, I am on the Isle of Skye and it works fine :-). Fleece should be your best friend, it works wonders here, as Charles shows in his videos. Our problem and probably yours too is not so much heat as wind…so fleece laid down is great for young plant protection…we’ve grown loads of e.g. courgettes etc. outside (even a random tomato…) and they did superbly. Good luck!


      1. Hi Alistair

        Thank you, I will take your advice re fleece coverings even though we have slight wind break (tall hedge), as we are also in a frost spot (micro climate Charles describes in videos).

        Happy gardening.


      2. Hi
        I am going to be between inverness/aberdeen. Please tell me.. how do you keep the fleece down?? we are in a real wind tunnel valley with no protection.

        1. Hi Nikki
          We are in Anglesey, North Wales, and are based in one of the highest points here, and so feel the effects of the wind when it gets blustery. I just use stones the size of bricks, or better still bricks if you can get some, at the corners and along the edges of the fleece to keep it all in place.
          All the best.

  57. Hi Charles, Love your channel, a wealth of effective techniques. I live in Colorado zone 5B, hence very dry, what are your thoughts on humidity domes for germinating and propagating seeds till I can plant them?

    1. Thanks Joe, and I can’t say for sure having not used them, nor needed to use them, however in your climate it sounds worth a try. Mainly in early spring because I imagine they could get hot in strong sunshine.

      1. Hi Charles, If I may ask another question, Are you recommending that all seeds be sown inside (except dill and carrots) to achieve maximum germination and if so, what is the optimum time for them to be inside? I have a general idea like peas, corn, pole beans 2 weeks? Pepper and tomatoes 6 weeks? etc. To give some detail I am planning on growing in a 2400 square feet terraced garden and want to grow small amounts of everything. Any feed back would be great. I’ll dig in to more of your videos to see if I can answer for myself. Cheers and look forward to more videos.

  58. A question about polytunnels. Now in February, I put my seedlings out in the polytunnel. Here in France, between zone 2 and 3, the temperature is around 5-10 degrees during daytime and sometimes but not often around 0 in the nights. How do you keep the warmth inside for the little plants to thrive and at the same time keep it ventilated so it doesn’t get to humid?

      1. Yes, the heat is not the problem. The humidity on the other hand is more difficult to deal with this time of the year. Do you keep the door/windows open every day when it is on the plus side outside?

        1. It’s a different zone to the U.K. but I would ventilate and use a manure hot bed to specifically heat seedlings sat on top. Seedlings need much more than your ambient temp at that time of year to be happy. Just my view.

        2. It’s a different zone to the U.K. but I would ventilate and use a manure hot bed to specifically heat seedlings sat on top. Seedlings need much more than your ambient temp at that time of year to be happy. Just my view.

  59. Hi Charles
    I am so enjoying your books and you tube videos. I have grown vegetables (badly) for a long time but really find your advice excellent and have just started adopting your ‘no dig’ approach and will be sowing lots of seeds in modules. I live in frost zone 8b which nis the same as yours I think.
    Thank you for your huge generosity and time sharing your knowledge.

  60. Hola Charles! Aquí una nueva e ilusionada seguidora aprendiendo muchísimo de ti.
    Consulta que parecerá obvia pero tras leer y leer no resuelvo. Tenemos un centro hípico y allí un estercolero muy muy grande donde se deposita el estiércol junto a la paja (de trigo). Hay estiércol (de caballo) que tiene casi 2 años de antigüedad. ¿esto sirve como compost para hacer las camas? o es necesario hacer o añadir algo más? Si no le doy uso, vendrá un camión y se lo llevaría pero me gustaría aprovecharlo de la mejor forma posible. Aprovecho para preguntar teniendo esto a mi alcance, qué recomiendas que se le añada a esta montaña para mejorar el resultado futuro?

    Gracias por tu ayuda!!!

    1. Emocionante. ¡Eso suena como una mezcla perfecta que ya tienes y puedes usar el menú anterior que ahora es compost! Haría eso y tal vez haría una vuelta mirando hacia el futuro.

  61. Hey Charles. Quick question in regards to the lunar planting. I see in Feb planting on same phase of moon for below and above ground. Do you not follow the waxing and waning being best time to plant certain things? Or have I misunderstood the waxing and waning advice
    Thanks for everything you do. I can never express my gratitude enough for what I’ve learnt from you

    1. Lovely to hear Zoe, thanks very much for your comment. About the moon, yes and no because I feel it’s less straightforward than sometimes presented. For example the waxing force may not be useful in certain seasons if it’s wrong time by the weather or climate or day length. Plus there is also the Maria tune root leaf flower fruit aspect, which continues regardless of waxing waning.
      Since it’s a whole two weeks of waiting for the change over, sometimes I sow in the slightly less favourable aspect.

  62. Dear Charles,
    I must begin with expressing my gratitude for making your vast knowledge so available. I very much admire your generosity of spirit, and both your green thumbs.

    Two years ago, I started my latest garden following your advise. Did not do well with my compost and had to wait out a year. This spring, with a good fence, a greenhouse, your books, and videos, I am ready to proceed full speed ahead.

    Apologies for the barrage of of questions which follow, I have been compiling them while taking your course ~ so much food for thought, and such a pleasure to spend time in your garden while the snow is piling high over mine. I am writing my questions in the order of the most important first, in case I might get lucky and you might find time to answer only one.

    1. I planted fruit trees to espalier on my vegetable garden fence:
    Hanska, Prunus americana rootstock
    Stanley, Prunus cerasifera Myrobalan
    Patten, Pyrus on OHxF97
    Giffard, Pyrus on OHxF97
    Will these trees still grow extensive root systems, taking moisture and nutrients from the nearby growing vegetables? I can easily plant them outside of the vegetable garden, just wanted to espalier something 😉

    2. I live in US Zone 5A. My greenhouse has a heater, and warming mats. What temperature would you advise to keep the greenhouse at?

    3. It seems you don’t harden your transplants, what soil temperature is just warm enough to plant them in?
    3A: And, does it make sense to use the fleece to warm up beds ahead of planting?

    On the off chance that you never tried this. Tall pod peas’ support, which will afford more space for the plants to spread: placing the posts in a zig zag fashion so that the string can also be tied between the outer posts.

    Someone was asking about direct seeding parsnips in spring = direct sewing all seeds with long germination (especially during windy and/or sunny spells). The seeds can be planted in a depression so that a piece of wood can be placed over. Once the seedlings emerge, the wood should be removed. This has worked well for me. However, we don’t have problem with slugs here though.

    With gratitude for all you do,

    P.S. I just noticed, you signed the calendar, what a nice touch!

    1. Thanks Violetta.
      Afraid I do not know those rootstocks, different names to ours. Choose those for the smallest trees if you want to grow vegetables nearby.
      For greenhouse heating if it was me I would use only the warming mats. Maybe row cover on top during cold nights. Greenhouse glass does not hold much warmth.
      I don’t measure soil temperature but estimate 43 Fahrenheit.
      From studies I have read, it makes no difference to lay covers before planting, only after plants are in the ground.

      Thank you very much for your tip on pea supports, nice idea.
      Parsnips germinate fine here and germination is easier with no dig. Good luck

  63. Dear Charles,

    I live on the borders of Wiltshire and Hampshire

    thank you so much for your videos and books. I have spent lockdown totally restructuring my raised beds. My question relates to plant spacing and multi seeding, I was all set up for Square foot gardening but after watching your videos, got a bit confused, for example radishes plant 16 in a square foot, what would your recommendations for multi sowing radishes and similar

    Kind regards

    Duncan Powell

    1. Cheers Duncan.
      16 radish is good. I can’t advise over all your square feet and the book No-Dig Organic home and garden has spacings in some detail.

      1. Many thanks Charles, im working through your books at present ,but getting over covid which has affected my concentration and i miss/forget things.

        Please keep safe


  64. Hi Charles,
    i have recently come across your Youtube channel and thank you so much for the informative videos. i have received the loverly calendar and diary that i ordered recently and it is just excellent. I have made two no dig beds in my sloping garden in Nottingham and am looking forward to growing some of my own, having ordered seeds from T&M.

  65. Hi there, I am new to veg growing (finally have the space for four 1.2 x 2.4m beds!) I am yet to get going to making beds, so my question is, have I missed the boat for this year? Am I too late to start no dig? If not, I take it my best bet is getting my hands on some compost asap! Thanks so much

    1. Hi Natalie and now is an excellent time to create no dig beds. So is every succeeding month! You can make beds at any time of year, and plant into them straight away, so yes good luck finding compost.

      1. Hi Everybody,
        May i add if Charles is OK, please take time to choose or buy compost which is mature a few months aleady or else you ‘ll be surprised that the compost is still hot and composting and taking much of the nutrients rather than giving to your young plants.
        As a new No Dig gardener i was taken aback by the new wave of 13cms slugs coming out of the cardboards and at the same time the plants not developing as they should be on the new compost beds.
        Either you have to wait 3 or 4 months before planting anything on the new compost beds or i’ld recommend that you buy composted horse/cow mature and mix it with domestic or commercial composts , that should balance the negative effets of new compost beds.

        Cheers and have a great time gardening 🙂

        1. Very good that you say this Gregory, thank you.
          I find myself saying it time and time again because compost sellers as you noticed, keep selling fresh, hot compost.
          Two years ago for example I bought some from a seller who is a friend, he told me that the compost was six months old. So I put a thermometer in the heat, and it read 60C! It was pretty fresh, no way six months old.
          It’s impossible to believe anything they say! But then, they are selling 😀

  66. Dear Charles,
    I really need the best advice on two subjects. Hope you can oblige.
    1. I have been collecting our horse’s old sawdust bedding which is dampened with pee and also includes some poo, and have now nearly filled a compost bay. Can I make good compost with this as the ‘brown’ along with some cardboard and some old hay? Will have plenty of grass cuttings and leaves and veggie leftovers.
    2. I would like to build a walk-in veggie cage ( 26 foot x 12 foot ) with 7mm netting. I am advised that 7mm netting will not allow bumble bees through .
    Will veggies that require pollination succeed if only honey bees can do the pollinating.
    I am planning ahead so that, with any luck I can continue gardening comfortably well into my 90’s . I do find the moveable smaller veggie cages
    time consuming and basically, inefficient although 100% effective against
    butterflies. Grateful thanks if you can help me. Alan

    1. Hi Alan
      Yes your mix for brown sounds excellent.
      And 7mm is indeed small, could be an issue if there were snow on the roof netting.
      Should be fine for insects. Like I rarely see bumble bees in my tunnel, yet pollination is good.

      1. Hi Charles
        Thank you very much indeed for your amazingly prompt and 100% useful reply.
        I wish I could bottle the difference you have made to my life, and that in many different ways. and send these gems (bottles) to all and many!
        Yours aye

  67. Hi Charles, thank you for everything you do! I am reading No Dig Organic Home & Garden at the moment and follow you on YouTube and via the blog and have improved my growing so much over the years. I am in my third year of growing on an allotment – luckily it is behind our house in SW London so has been a real godsend during lockdown. I was referring to the Southern Hemisphere Sowing Guide above and wondered if the months at the top of each page were meant to go from September to August rather than March to February – sorry to mention it but I thought you should know.

    1. Hi Stuart and thanks for your feedback. That does sound a very handy place to have an allotment!
      On the southern hemisphere calendar, the months look correct to me. We were advised that often their garden year is seen as starting in autumn, rather than spring. Actually that came from Australia where winters are mostly less cold than here so it’s a key growing season, hence a lot of sowing in autumn!
      I hope that makes sense. It was a quite an exercise for us to create the calendar and make sure the dates were transposed correctly.

      1. Ah yes it’s *Southern hemisphere* sowing guide. What a fool! Sorry Charles it seems with everything that is going on I forgot which hemisphere I am in, and I clicked through from your email yesterday and did not really notice what it was despite the title. Sorry to waste your time but glad that it made me stop and let you know how much I appreciate all your efforts and how you’ve helped me become a better gardener. I was born in Rhode Island USA and was surrounded by vegetable gardeners in their back gardens as a child but it was not until I found myself in the UK decades later that I actually picked up a spade for myself. Happy to be in a more temperate climate now, I can still do chores around the garden most days whereas back home it is too cold in winter!

    1. Possibly depending on many factors. By mid April they will be going a little woody as they move towards flowering.

  68. Hi Charles, last year I followed your sowing advice for florence fennel: August
    Sow undercover endive and Florence fennel until 10th, lettuce (late August sowings to overwinter as small plants). 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.

    I planted in early Sept but by Oct the bulbs had not swollen enough to harvest. They continue to look fine, I have fleeced using wire supports to allow them to stand tall. It is Jan and they are still not large enough to harvest – do I just wait? Is this what you mean by overwintering?

    1. It’s depends a bit where you are but it sounds like your Fennel is on the cusp of not quite getting big before winter and hopefully not being too big to over winter, without frost damage. All being well it could bulb more by early April. Or you have to just eat them smaller. Next year sow two weeks earlier soy.

  69. Hello! I am sure this has been asked already but here we go. I would love to buy your planting wall calendar but living here in the US, New England zone 6-7, is there a simple rule of thumb to convert the time lines? Love your videos!

    1. Hi Terry, feedback suggests that timings are very similar for zone 6 to 7. For example your last frost date is probably almost the same, we are mid May.

      1. Thank you, good to know; I ordered 2 calendars!
        Another question: I started composting last spring and was able to cover my garden this past November with a few inches of nice compost. However, I could also purchase some compost from a local farm this coming march and was wondering if I should put a few more inches of this on top, as my soil was in really bad shape. The compost is made from leaves and cow manure and is approved for use in organic production. We bought a few bags of it this past fall to grow some grass and it worked great. I would love to give my vegetable garden an extra boost if you think it would be beneficial. Your thoughts?
        Thank you Charles, I’m so glad I found you! Be well!

      2. Also, can I compost in winter? Here in CT we get freezing temperatures every night and occasional snow. Can I store my veg clippings and egg shells in a trash bag outside to dump on the pile in spring?
        Thanks again!

        1. You can do either, which ever is simpler for you. Materials you put on a heap in cold winter weather just sit there and then decompose in the spring. Only issue might be rodents.

  70. Hi Charles,
    Thank you for all the wonderful content. This planting guide in particular is helping with planning this year’s crop. We have a a single family home in the Portland, OR area in the US.

    2020 was my first year gardening. I made some flipped sod beds and plan to convert most of the rest of the back yard from lawn to garden area as soon as I get a dry day. The south half of the yard is full to partial shade.

    What plantings should I prioritize for the sun vs shade areas to get the most use of the garden area?

    Thank you,

    1. Sounds good Jeff. I would grow the warmth loving plants like tomatoes, sweetcorn, aubergines, courgettes et cetera in the sunny areas. Most plants grow in some shade, just with slightly less exuberance.

  71. Greetings beautiful charles, ten thousand blessings to you in the new year!

    Your vids and info on this site really helped me last year growing veg on a small plot in ireland (35m2), had a great time, thank you.

    Now I am living in a Mediterranean climate (zone10/10b) with frosts rarely occurring, lowest temp in the last 10 years has been 5 degrees late january. I have a much larger plot of 250m2 which im putting 10 10m x 1m beds in. Im having a hard time making a crop plan for the year and am wondering how I might adapt the information on this page to my climate. Any advice.

    Currently making beds, my aimed first sowing date is last week of january.

    I really appreciate your time responding and all you do!

    1. Hi Shunya

      Thanks and sounds a nice climate! Great you did well already.
      I would sow a month earlier until May, then a month later from July.
      Be prepared for more insects.
      Try many things!

  72. Hi Charles. Fran and I attended your course last year year just before the first lock down ( phew) and loved it so thank you. Since then our name has come up and we were allocated an allotment in September. I am now trying to buy seeds in readiness for next year but am struggling with the vast array out there…… and dont want to waste my effforts on plants that wont respond badly to a new gardeners inexperience or buy from a source that is not sound. where would you recommend we buy seeds? and also we are looking to buy tomato, cucumber and avariey of squashes. any advice on typs or varietys that would be good. Looking for flavoursome and those that grow in abundance and Oh disease resistant 🙂

  73. Hello Charlie,
    It’s a real pleasure to follow your YT channel and apply some of your useful tips and tricks to increase the productivity for commun small time garderners like me who spend less time to produce healthy vegetables for my family especially for my angel daughters 👩‍🦰 👧
    But other than brassicas and carrots, i don’t see much other healthy foods we can produce in a small garden for example fruits like strawberries, grapes, blueberries, cranberries, kiwis 🥝🍇 🍓🍒etc or some other starchy vegetables like yams/sweet potatoes in your site…
    It would be extremely useful if you can go forward to extend your knowledge on how to multiply and grow these fruits full of vitamines 👌
    In the same way i’ld have appreciated on knowing how to grow and multiply a variety of flowers to attract bees and birds in the garden as well as to offer a beautiful bouquet of a variety of beautiful roses to my wife.

    Hope you’ll complete your knowledge sharing on these subjects in the coming months in 2021 😍

    Keep it up uncle Charlie 😎

    1. Thank you ego and it’s good that you are making nice harvest for your family.
      I do not grow fruit so much for two reasons, one is lack of time being so busy with my other work second we have pest problems here like badgers eat strawberries and sweetcorn, and are difficult to keep out of a garden. Plus the soil is not acid therefore unsuitable for cranberries and blueberries. Sorry I cannot help more with that.

      1. Hello Charles,
        A lovely prompt reply, but to “ego” rather than “Igor”. I know you have lots of replies to get through, but this seems a more unfortunate typo than most! No reply needed: I’m just giving Igor a bit of moral support if he needs it!

  74. I was always confused how I could use your exact planting dates yet my last frost is in late March and my first is early November. According to, your last frost is late March and first frost is early November, exactly like my climate. (Seattle) It might be good to note that although your farm may be in a later microclimate, the more general dates for your area are different and that might reduce confusion for some people like me. 🙂 Or perhaps you’re giving us the last and first possible frost. Published frost dates are the last and first average frost. It’s hard to compare if you’re using a different definition. Anyway now that I know my climate is nearly identical to yours, I can use your books with more confidence!

    1. This is a good point and my understanding is that last first date is the last possible frost by an average date, if that makes sense. The kind of hybrid date between the two possibilities and of course it is never quite the same.

      Yes from what I hear Seattle climate is quite similar to here! Another aspect of my dates is that a lot of them are about vegetables which are not frost sensitive, such as onions spinach lettuce broccoli and so forth

      Whatever, I hope this information works well for you.

  75. Hi Charles. I live in the countryside, south of Paris. I have lived in Sweden and Bristol area before and now trying to learn how to grow in this new climate. We have had very little rain the previous summers. I have become an expert growing tomatoes with an annual crop of 100kg. Now I would like to buy a poly tunnel to extend the season and I would like to grow cabbage. I am not an expert in the English language and would like to know, What is the difference between kale, brassicas and cabbage? I have tried to google it, but it is not very clear. I wish you a merry Christmas.

    1. Very good Anna!
      Brassica is the cabbage family which includes kale, radish, Brussels sprouts, swedes (!) and of course cabbage.
      Kale grows lots of leaves for continual harvests. I wish you a long season!

  76. Hi Charles,

    firstly i want to thank you for all these informative videos. They really have been super helpful.
    I’ve got a question to ask, but i’m not sure it’s a question that i should be asking.
    I live in roughly the same climate zone, so all your vegetables and plants would be suitable over here aswell (i think). I was just wondering where you get most of your seeds?
    You’re grenoble red just looks absolutely stunning, same for the purple sprouting brocolli.
    Is there any chance you could tell us some more about where you get the seeds?
    Your garden is so diverse and it’s amazing how it’s flourishing thanks to the no dig method.
    I’ll be taking my first steps soon in a vegetable garden (small garden) with the no dig method.
    Any help would be really appreciated! Your books are already on the way so i can’t wait to start reading them!

    Sincerely, Nigel.

    1. Cheers Nigel and this is good to read, plus it sounds like you have the advantage of being similarly placed in terms of climate, for timings.

      You can find the information about seeds on the page Seeds and Varieties under the Learn banner, also see my video seed saving for information about how to look after Grenoble red lettuce and save seeds from it.
      I hope that you have a great 2021.

  77. Hi Charles,

    I am so exciting that the allotment site manager called me to say that I can get a plot tomorrow! My first ever allotment.

    I have no experience at all in growing vegetables but I watched your videos months ago while I was still waiting for a site. I then decided to use your no-dig method straightaway without hesitation.

    Sadly seems I will miss all sowing season though. Anyway, I am excited 🙂

    1. Lovely to sense your excitement Tracy and I wish you well.
      I would not worry about missing the chance to sow and grow this year. You have an excellent time now to prepare for spring.

      1. Depending on where you are but you might still get some broad beans in. I’m in Devon and put mine in the last week of November, I sow them six inches deep so the mice can’t find them, always works for me.

        1. I will remember that for next year – I’ve just been to my plot (also in Devon!) and was gutted to find all my broad bean seedlings de-rooted. I netted them against birds so assume it was mice, didn’t have any problem with them last year. I re-sowed this afternoon into pots in a shed with a transparent roof so still hopeful … 🤞🙏

  78. Hi charles. I have been trying to do a crop plan and I was struggling to work out times to sow, plant, follow on and harvest. Until I studied and taken notes from your sowing timeline that is. It’s you have made it so clear on what I need to do and when. I live in Swansea and I think my grow zone is similar to yours or just one number out…. I love the way you come across on your videos, so relaxed and still love growing after all these years of doing it. This is my first year growing in beds. Thank you for all of your advice… Diolch yn fawr.

    1. How nice to read this Craig, thankyou, and I am delighted that you can find lots of useful information here.
      Yes Swansea is similar, just a little cooler at times, more so in summer, and good out of the wind!

  79. Hi Charles,
    I follow your advices since one year and my garden looks neat and tidy. There is no other organic deposits other than cardboard, composts and woodchips. I’ve to admit that i saw fewer slugs and weeds than usual, let’s say 80% less and saved almost 50% of time on fighting a lost war against slug/weeds.
    But i’ve a question regarding another usage which e hear more and more on youtube is the usage of URINE in the veggie garden.
    Have you tried this or what’s your opinion about this as a seasoned gardener 🙂

    Thanks & Regards,

    1. I have noticed that most “gardening celebrities” will not engage on this subject as it will alienate some supporters.

      I’m an avid user over 50 years of gardening
      Here is a quick read on the subject

      Typing “urine as fertilizer” will give a wide range of information and

      gives an informative view

      Basically a dilution of about 1 part Urine to 10 parts water can be used on most of the garden (but perhaps not near salad veg to avoid the “yuck” factor). Its fantastic as a compost accelerator at a more concentrated 1 to 3.
      If at anytime if you can smell urine a day later you need to dilute it more or stop using for a while or water the area generously to flush it into the soil.
      Collecting a days urine in a watering can and then filling it with water and “watering” parts of the garden or add to a compost heap that needs moisture.
      I believe in nurturing a healthy soil an the soil will then enable my plants to grow well and resist disease. Therefor I don’t water the plants with it but enrich the soil.
      Good luck and healthy growing

  80. Hi Charles, I first got into veg growing on an organic smallholding over 40 years ago. I didn’t appreciate it then but the soil in our part of Buckinghamshire was a beautiful sandy loam and was to be the best that I was to have the pleasure of working with for the next 40 years! I now grow my veg in my chalky south downs garden, but also have an allotment which is more clay. I have access to almost unlimited supply of straw rich horse manure. I incorporate a lot of it into my compost heaps, but wonder what other ways there might be for using it. I suppose my question is “does horse manure need to be fully rotted down before using, or are there uses for it in it’s fresh state?”.

    1. Nice history and I find it better if well decomposed, a year old say.
      Otherwise slugs and weed seeds.
      Will be great for both those soils

  81. Hi Charles,

    I’m just about to buy my first house and I can’t wait to make my first no dig bed. I love the videos. I’ve also got the diary which is excellent, although I wasn’t expecting the filth on p10 fwwaar. We will be in Forres which I’m told has a favourable micro climate. Great work keep it up.

    1. Haha nice comment! An yes, there was the amazing Findhorn garden of the mid 1960’s.
      I am teaching nearby next w/e 😀

  82. Ant activity on the leeks too, probably the cause of the black fly.

    Just been given a copy of your new book for my birthday so looking forward to a good read!


  83. Thanks Charles

    I have composted the receipts when there have not been so many and mixed with other paper but not so many receipts. I might put some in then.

    Also, I have noticed an awful lot of blackfly appearing on my leeks – is this something you see? Squashing a lot of them.

    Best wishes Eliza

  84. Hi Charles

    Two questions for you:

    I may have to put my garlic in a bed less than 18″ from my leeks. Will rust from my leeks spread to the garlic, presuming the garlic shows leaf before leeks are harvested of course?

    Secondly, I have a massive pile of receipts, both mine and from family that require shredding. I have read something about harmful substances in receipts, presumably in the ink used, so should I or should I not put the shredding in my compost bin?

    Many thanks Eliza

    1. Haha wicked receipts, and I don’t know. “Read something” would not stop me using them 🙂
      I don’t reckon that garlic and leek cross-contaminate, have not seen that.

    2. Please don’t compost your receipts! You shouldn’t put them with paper waste either.
      They contain a coating of BPA, a substance known to cause cancer. Lots of places and countries now starting to use alternatives and banning heat printed BPA receipts.

      1. Hello Trace and thanks for this advice, I shall stop adding any receipts to compost..
        It’s mind boggling how much we need to know about all this.

      2. Thanks for this, Taco, i was sure I read something about this that half lodged in my mind. I will not compost any more. Eliza

  85. Hi Charles,

    It’s been a delight to discover you this year, and learn from so many of your outstanding YouTube videos.

    Right now I’m about to start a no-dig bed for garlic, and I have a query. The cardboard was laid down as much as 2 months ago, and I believe I had a few cm of subsoil/white earth put down before it to smother weeds, but more so I was in a hurry to dump that somewhere. How much of a layer of cow manure/compost would you recommend for this crop, or might this cardboard be a bit too soggy (wet Irish climate) to do so? It did rain enormously last night, and soil in general is heavy.

    Adjacent to this planned garlic bed are 2 do-dig beds with leek. I bought these as small plants from the local market and planted 1st week August, and told they’d be good for harvesting in late November. They are in clumps (4 leeks avg), and spaced 30cm apart each ways. Stems now about 4-6cm from ground, 2cm-ish diameter and maybe 40cm average height (50cm bringing full leaf upwards). I notice some leaves trailing into each other or close to ground. Might this have contributed to the first signs of rust I’m seeing on the odd leaf (ie should I be pruning?), or was it just the strong winds?

    Many thanks for your time, Charles.

    1. Hi Daniel

      Nice to hear. I reckon 7-10cm compost for that new bed.
      For the leeks, in Ireland 1st week August is a late date to transplant, for autumn harvest. I would harvest selectively and allow some to grow until late winter to early spring.
      Rust is normal and it’s hard to see what causes it often, yes to pull off damaged leaves to compost heap.

  86. This year I became a follower of your methods, times for sowing, youtube videos and your Diary.
    We have eaten something from my small garden every day.
    I have some home made compost that is full of celeriac and weed seeds. What is the best way to use it?
    I don’t have a empty raised bed to use it and cover with cardboard. Thank you for your inspiration.

    1. I am happy to hear your results Sally.
      It depends how much compost. I would not spread it thinly for sure! You must soon have either some empty spaces after say root harvests, or space under say broccoli, to spread it and then lay thin cardboard on top.

  87. Hi Charles,
    I’ve just set out my first no dig bed, in which i have planted cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kale. 160 plants in total at 18 inch apart. I fear this is going to take up this bed for the next 8 months, could i plant my garlic in between? and when you say plant spring onions, does it have to be a spring onion variety or can i use a bulb variety in multi sown modules as i did earlier in the year to great success. [ thanks to you.]
    Can i also take this opportunity to say a big thanks to you and all your team for the work you do, its made gardening more enjoyable and productive than i thought possible .
    Regards John

    1. Hi John, the garlic can be interplanted only if plants are finishing by March/April and not too dark underneath.
      Spring onion varieties are more winter hardy, mostly
      And thanks

  88. Hi Charles
    this 2nd time of contact but alas is a question about composting compost.
    Am preparing beds and have number of compost piles between the garden and the allotmen even trying to design a singing and dancing shed to put raw manure in to heat doubled glazed shed up. lol

    But am really needing a top up my beds. Soooo ‘ green compost’ i can get it delivered but i KNOW cat and dog waste is put into brown bins….please tell alternatives or would you feel its ok using a non organic green manure, its heated to high enough temperature to destroy diseases in animal waste. But really not sure.
    I have access to organic horse manure for my garden and cow manure for the allotment but apart from buying bags of organics manure any other suggestions
    Maybe this question is not clear……..I just want to top my beds up.
    Thankyou you jill

  89. Hi Charles, thank you for your great videos on youtube. We absolutely love it!
    I grew up in the tropics near the equator and remembered everything been direct sown in native soil and they just grow (papaya, watermelon, mango trees, pineapples etc.). Seed/ cell trays and compost were almost unheard of. Now I am in region 9b in the Southern Hemisphere and not knowing where to start, I wanted to sow direct into the ground while my husband thought it was madness – his way was to always grow vegetables in raised garden boxes. Makes sense then, our native soil is clay.
    Thank goodness we found your no dig mounts and that is what we settled on (a bit of both worlds). This will be our first year sowing on no dig with mixture of homemade and bought compost on a layer of pea straw. We are heading into spring now and the garden is keeping us very excited after a hectic day of office work.

    A word of advice about using pea straw as bottom layer of the mount – cattle peas do grow through and now we cannot differentiate which is which!

    Also love your podcast with Joe that was very enlightening.

    1. Thanks Cecil, nice to hear.
      Have to say I would not use straw at the bottom of a bed! I hope your new garden grows well, it sounds exciting.

  90. I have planted out young Mizuna plants which are about 4/6″ tall – do I need to do any sort of covering? Fleece or mesh etc?

    Thank you

  91. Hi Charles,
    Thank you very much for all the advices and the wonderful video lessons.
    I tried your no dig method on laying cardboards but it brought me a fresh load of slugs. It seems they breed and proliferate under the cardboard protection.
    In the mean time, i saw beautiful beets and lettuce coming up very healthy in splendid colors. Hope i’ll get rid of those cursed slugs once for all and enjoy my no dig garden with the spare time you offered.
    Thanks and Regards,

    1. Hello Hans
      Yes this can happen at first in areas with slugs. I went out often at night in my first year here, with torch and knife.
      After which it became much easier.
      Year one is the hardest, as I keep saying.

      1. Thanks Charles for your kind advice and support.
        It seems i don’t have much choice than becoming a vegan saving his beets and carrots as a slug serial-killer at dawn with a torch and knife.
        Keep going (y)

  92. Hello Charles,
    Am i too late (24/08/2020) ( for sowing outdoor lettuce ?? I live in Bristol so not too far from you, If i’m good could you please suggest some varieties to plant ?? I’ve got grenoble red but a couple more would be nice xx
    Thanks x

    1. You can sow now Phil, for cropping next spring. Perhaps a few leaves before Christmas.
      G Red is all I recommend at this time.

  93. Hi Charles, thank you so much for your wonderful videos and your generous sharing of information. I am in the north of Scotland, not too far from your planned October course, in zone 8b. I have finally (after 21 years of wishing) purchased and put up a polytunnel. It is 3m x 8m, and was completed 2 days ago. I have put in a no dig bed down one side, there will be 2 more once I have enough compost!

    My question relates to a video I saw of a New Jersey gardener (James Prigioni), advocating late sowing of fast growing varieties of things you wouldn’t think were late season crops (cucumber, peas/ mangetout, carrots, kale, beets, dwarf green beans, Swiss chard). He says base it on your 1st frost date and time to maturation of variety. My 1stFD is 21 Nov ( seems nuts that mine is later than yours, but I guess this is the due to the effect of the sea). I am obviously keen to get things going in the new polytunnel, but I’m wary that north of Inverness is not New Jersey! Light is very different, and even if no frost happens, we do get short days rather quickly. Do you think I have any chance of getting any of these crops if started now, or should I just stick to salad leaves and maybe some brassicas?

    I’ve watched your videos on plants needing their correct times to prosper and read the above time line for sowing, but also don’t mind small harvests if I could get some mangetout before the end of 2020.

    Thanks for any advice. Hopefully your talk will still be able to happen in October, my daughter and I are very excited about it! Stay safe and happy harvests, Lori MacGregor

    1. Thanks Lori and I hope to make it up there 🙂
      His advice is not precise enough and I wonder if he realises that French beans need far more warmth to grow than say chard. Don’t sow beans now. Def. not cucumber, mad!
      Peas are cold-tolerant but will not grow much in your short autumn days – another factor to consider is light, not just temperature. Try a few to see but not too many, the space is precious and once say any peas finish, it’s too late to replant until spring.
      You could have large kale and chard through winter, sow asap, they will like the wind protection. All salads for sure.

      1. That is wonderful advice, thank you. 😀

        I thought the light might be an issue, New Jersey may have colder winters, but their latitude is equivalent to Portugal and Spain. Quite different to Easter Ross, the latitude of which is just south of Juneau, Alaska!

        I’m off to locally owned garden centre today to see what chard seed I can find, and will get that, salad, and kale sown today.

        Thank you so much again, delighted I have found your channel- thank you YouTube algorithms.

        Best, Lori

  94. Dear Charles.Thank you. You are a Godsend and ditto to all the favorable comments above. I leave near Aracena Huelva Spain. As far as I can tell I am in one 9 b. We can keep Oranges,and lemons but have some trouble with Limes. Usually we don’t have hard frost but it does go down to freezing sometimes, In 30 years it has snowed for 1 day 5 times. How do I adjust your planting time line? In summer there is no rain and the temperatures can reach 40ish centigrade. Also how does no dig work with drip irrigation? I would appreciate any advice books websites videos.
    Best regards,

    1. Thanks Marie, sounds an amazing climate, if hot in summer.
      For the Timeline I would sow about a month earlier until May, then sow nothing for a while, then sow 4-6 weeks later after July – so June sowings early August, July in early September, August in late September etc. Approximately!
      My online course 2 has more on these matters, also watering.
      With drip irrigation it works, but the compost being dry mostly, means less value to soil life.

  95. Hello and thank you for sharing so much information. I am really enjoying your videos on youtube and learning g more and more as I go.

    A quick question, I cannot find anywhere information regarding spacing between lettuces or multi sown beetroot or leeks. Is this information hidden anywhere that I can source, or do you just follow the packets even if multi sown?

    Many thanks and please keep those videos coming!


    1. Thanks Simon, nice to hear.
      There are spacings tables in my books, and online course 2. Good clues in the photos too!

  96. Hello Charles

    We have enormous turnips and massive carrots, all tasty, and a wonderful harvest, using a lot of the teachings you offer. I typically find July to early August a very diffucult time to sow the beds. There seems to be a peak of slugs, beetles, larvae that chomp up every new little seedling. All our lettuce plantings from late July have fed other little critters and the beds are empty. Do you have any suggestions for how to relate to this, and have a continued bountiful harvest in the fall?


    1. Ah sorry to hear this Miki.
      It sounds like there is too much habitat for pests. I can only guess.
      Maybe too much wood mulch or something.
      Or possibly leatherjackets returning – I have had a few and been finding them to squash. But total wipe-out is too much even for them, ubless it’s your site perhaps.

      1. Thank you for the commiseration Charles.

        Our main challenge is the invasive Spanish slug, that hides underneath dense canopies of peas, beans, cellery, etc. and in hedges.

        I will reduce the wood mulch for next year and see how that goes. And it’s time to spray the cabbage too, which is overwhelmed by egg-laying butterflies.


  97. Dear Charles,

    Thank you so much for sharing with your knowledge and experience. I saw you on YouTube and I think I already watched all your video. I just can not get enough of them. I love them all.

    I’m very inspired and I’m wondering if you have any sawing and transplanting advice on squashes, sunflowers, amaranth and asparagus?

    Also I’m very confused with interplanting as I saw some plants benefit from each other (repealing insects etc) but I was online that there are some plants which are not such a good companions.

    Also where do you recommend to get seeds from? I live in London City in UK but was thinking about moving back to Ireland co. Cork which I assume has the same climate?

    Thank you again and keep safe


    1. Hello Agi and thanks for your message.
      Squash and asparagus are in my videos, also online course 2 and books.
      For interplanting, I would ignore that online writing, a lot is not backed by evidence. For example fennel loves other plants. Almost anything is possible as long as there is enough light and moisture.
      Check out the page Seeds and Varieties for seeds.
      Cork is cooler than London, except in winter, but broadly similar.

  98. Greetings Charles,
    First of all thank you for your wonderful site and your worthy advices on time saving no dig gardening.

    Unfortunately for me the conversion to No Dig its still grueling because i bought the compost from the recycling centre near my home which respects all standards of the fabrication of compost from green waste. The thing is i’ve prepared a bed of 15cm with this compost but even after 2 months of waiting, the plants do not develop because the compost bed seems to be extremely dry and never retains moisture for longer periods and the soil below becomes dry and hard day by day.

    I’m loosing the best period of production but i’m convinced of your method. May be something i missed but i’m hopeful.


    1. Sorry to hear this Ray and I suspect the compost was too fresh, is still decomposing and using nutrients for that.
      Fresh compost also does not hold moisture well.
      Things will soon improve so hang in there 🙂 ANd when/if you need more compost, buy it 4-6 months before spreading.

  99. Thank you so much for this and all your other work. I just ordered 3 books from your shop here, even though the shipment to Germany is rather expensive. Your work is so amazing I want to reward that.

    Funny enough I did something “nearly” right due to laziness. I just dug wholes for my plants but let the surrounding soil undisturbed and threw a weed stopping fabric on top. Later this year I will add a lot of compost on my soil and start to fully follow your method. Thanks for this easy approach which is right after my own heart.
    I already have loads of cucumbers and tomatoes and even Chilis in my green house. Sadly the aubergines don’t quite grow as I want them to. Lots stay really small and then go ripe with big seeds. I just had one slightly bigger one so far. Do you have any suggestions on what to change for next year, except putting on more compost. I’m really not sure what went wrong. My plants developed lots of fruit and then just stopped with the growing.
    I also had lots of spider mites, but now that I follow your suggestion of just washing them of, all plants look healthy again. Everything else I tried just stopped them for a day or two. So thank you for that, too. Simple seems to be best most of the time and it really safes money.

    Please keep up the good work and stay happy and healthy. You are a true inspiration to all of us and transformed the way I am seeing natures work. I also got my mom hooked on your method even though I have to tell it to her. Her english is not good enough to find joy in listening to you explaining it or reading your books, sadly.

    Thanks again, you are awesome!

    1. Dear Laura,
      I am touched to read this. You have good instincts!
      For the aubergines, I am unsure, just possibly it’s a varietal issue – some are bred to be picked very small. Check the seed catalogues for 2021.
      Yes simple is best.
      Sorry the postage is high! We are working on ebooks 🙂
      Good luck with encouraging your mother, and keep well.

      1. Hello Charles,

        thank you for your nice reply. I always enjoy reading your posts and watching your videos. You seem like such a humble and gentle soul. Just lovely how you share your wisdom with everyone for free. You are kind of restoring my faith in humanity.
        And gardening is like medicine for the soul. I love it, thanks for making it easier.

        I guess the aubergine might have been a mixed up one as I bought that one from a nursery due to being to late to grow it from seed.
        I can’t wait for the books to arrive. Ebooks would be awesome for everyone in a different country. I think even the postage will be all worth it though. Your advise is so precious.

        I’m looking forward to future posts and videos. Your last update was quite informative again. Always something new to learn.
        Amazing how you take the time to reply to nearly every post, thank you so much. I think that you truly love what you do.

        Have a nice day and lots of veg to harvest.

  100. Hello from New Zealand! I live in the Bay of Plenty, and as such i think I am zone 10. I have just copied and pasted your sowing timeline into excel on my laptop and then changed all the dates to suit New Zealand seasons. I feel like a professional now! LOL
    As I am in Zone 10 this means I can sow at least two weeks earlier than for Zone 8-9?
    As a side note, I have had raised gardens for a long time and i was unwittingly doing the No Dig method due to bone idleness 🙂 it really DOES make life so much easier – i am going to try planting potatoes in mulch so I get CLEAN potatoes this year, It is winter here now, so will have to wait for quite awhile but the prospect is exciting ….

    1. Hi Julie, all nice to hear.
      I was in Bay of Plenty December 1988, lovely climate, yes a good two weeks ahead!
      I hope spring is good for you.

    2. Hi Julie, out of bone laziness could you please send me your excel spread sheet with Charles timelines for NZ? We are in Chch and this would be incredibly helpful!!!! All good if not !!

      Charles you are an inspiration!

      Thank you for all of the helpful videos and this fantastic site, Andrew

      [email protected]

  101. Hello Charles,
    I discovered your show during this awful quarantine and what a lovely surprise. You have so much experience and knowledge and seem to be such a gentle soul, Thank you!

    I was wondering, if here in the US; CT, zone 6, might I be able to sow beet roots today for a fall harvest? I know they are a cool weather crop but I am still a bit new at succession planting so I was not sure if it would work. I am going to try planting a second wave in my garden this year and I would like to include beets. Thank you in advance for any advice, stay well.

    1. Thanks Terry and nice to hear you are growing succession plantings.
      Beetroot are marginal for sowing now but I would try some at least, they may not grow huge but if autumn were mild, it could work. Asap!

  102. Hi Charles, this is my first year growing veg. I picked you up on YouTube at the start of the year and i must say i have learnt so much – so thanks a lot, i’m really enjoying it!
    It’s all a bit of trial and error this year, been growing anything and everything – i’ve decided next year i’m only doing high yielding veg. Broccoli and cauliflower take up far too much real estate when you have got much space 🙂 One question i had was about my courgette plants. They look super healthy, producing lots of fruit and flowers, but the courgettes themselves fail to ‘fill out’ at the ends/tips. So from the stem, through to the middle of the fruit they are chunky and of nice size, but at the end they go all pointed and thin, so i have a strange shaped courgette. They still taste good (once i chop off the small end), but i feel like i’m missing a trick – Any ideas?

    1. Nice to hear Rob.
      It sounds like you need to pick them sooner. The first fruits often do that, just pick them off.
      Then plants grow and subsequent fruits grow better shape. Pick before the flowers die completely, unless you want huge ones.

  103. Thank you once again Charles
    As I have just added compost in between my garden rows to even soil and compacted some, I can already see a difference with my plants growth and sturdiness.
    Your info is so knowledgeable and so informative. I must find some of your books!
    Thank you

  104. Hello Charles!
    Sending appreciation from Georgia, US, zone 8. I absolutely love your YouTube videos – they are so informative and helpful. Can’t wait to multisow beetroot and onions this fall! I am wondering if you recommend starting swedes in plug trays and then transplanting – or if they should be sown directly?

    Thanks again for all the wonderful information – you’re the best!

    1. Thanks Kyle.
      Yes I transplant swedes. If you like them small, multisow can work.
      Here we eat them large and store overwinter, so single plants work best.
      More on that in my online course 2

  105. its just a really big thank you Charles. i had been TRYING to grow food gardens for years. OMG i discovered your NODIG method. Blimey am growing everything and it just blossoms big. so big i’ve just got an allotment cause i ran out of space 15×10 meters. its just sooooo exciting. hence why am here looking to see what i can seed from the time line. mid July northern Ireland which is an 8. Ive wrote it down. i will do a course with you at some point. Thank you so much its a master piece your methods

    1. How lovely to read this Jill, you sound so happy and excited, which is as good as growing the food!

  106. Hi Charles

    Courgette (Zucchini), Thompson & Morgan. Think they came free with Grow Your Own mag, but I’ve grown these for the last four years or so and never had a problem. There was one seed left in my old packet – pity I didn’t use it instead of opening the new one. It says sow by May 2022 on the packet. I sowed two per pot and thinned out the weakest when small. So annoying as the fruit is very tasty.


  107. Charles

    Any idea what is happening with my courgettes this year? I have grown the same variety (zucchini) for three or four years now but this year something odd is happening. I have very small fruit, very, very small on both plants I am growing. One is growing on my own compost heap and one is growing in a large wooden planter. The one in the planter is taking off up a fence and has huge leaves and plenty of flowers but such small fruit that do not grow. The other on my compost heap is also healthy, not as big as the other but still a good size and has the same very small fruit. I have removed some small fruit from both in an effort to encourage others to grow but they stubbornly refuse to give me the elongated fruit that I have had in previous years from this courgette. They are in different parts of my garden, in different compost but both behaving the same. Could it be rogue seeds? Wish I had grown more to compare but disciplined myself not to this year! Now I have no courgettes?

    Hoping you can enlighten me, Eliza

  108. Hello Charles,
    I love and try to grow cabbage but they never have compact and tight centres. They are always open, like an opening rose. Once I pull off all the outer leaves, usually damaged by bugs and slugs. There is not much left of the centre. Any idea what I could be doing wrong, please.

    1. So many variables.
      Could simply be variety, maybe try an F1, they are more tightly maintained to ‘do what it says on the tin’. Bingenheim varieties are good too.

  109. Hey Charles a quick question from nova scotia canada. In your siwing timeline you mention Savoy cabbage in first week if June so right now haha. Is this the only type of cabbage or will most short season cabbages be fine to sow as well? Thanks!

    1. You are right, any short season cabbage also good.
      Savoy is the only cabbage to sow now for harvest through winter as a large plant.

  110. Charles, how do you find out what zone you live in? I am an absolute beginner living in Northern Ireland.

  111. Hi Charles,
    I just want to thank you again for all of the information you make available to us. I am so happy to have found you. Everything you do makes so much sense and is obviously successful. This is a very difficult time for everyone and having your resources at our fingertips is helping quite a bit.
    Putting in new beds, growing fresh nutritious food, taking the time to sit and think of something productive while watching the bees and birds has been rejuvenating for me at a crucial time.
    Off to read through your advice before today’s trip to the nursery for seeds… cheers.

      1. Hello again. I saw your advice about moon and astrological phases so sowed a lot of seeds (above ground veggies) today. I’m all set up for the root veggies tomorrow.
        I do have a question… I had 5 yards of compost delivered last week and it was billowing steam (in 66F temps). I’m nervous about using just this compost when I put the beds together. Waiting past 3 more weeks will really be pushing our 8b zone. (If it were you I know you’d let the compost sit for 3 months.) I was wondering if adding a bit of “wood chips” (actually shredded cedar) would cut the nitrogen load or if I’m better off only using the unfinished compost in the bottom 4” of the beds, I’m building 8” beds due to soggy winter and spring conditions. (BTW, lovely crumbly texture to the hot stuff). Buying enough bagged compost to fill half of the beds is daunting. I’d be drowning in compost for a couple of years!
        I’m loving the course as much as the videos and this website. Again, thanks for all you do. Cheers.

        1. Hi Laura and yes that compost needs caution.
          Your solution is what I would do – use it even for 5-6 of the 8in, and 2-3 of ripe compost on top.
          Glad you are enjoying the course, and caught the great moon period!

          1. Thank you Charles. That makes me feel a lot better. It got a good aeration when it was delivered and will get another tomorrow when it’s hauled up to the back yard. It will also get a good watering with the rain on Tuesday so maybe we can speed the process (I mean the work has to be done anyway so it can’t hurt.)
            We’ll probably do 3 one yard heaps to start things off. I will have a few weeks before transplanting and can do one bed at a time. That much compost was a bit intimidating. I have a feeling once I’ve pricked out all the new seedlings-to-be I’ll feel quite differently.
            I was quite surprised to read about the moon phases but it makes so much sense and there is quite a bit of history behind it. It resonated with both me and my son. Thank you.

  112. Hi Charles,

    Greetings from Wellington, New Zealand. I have been vege gardening for a short time and have now been converted to no dig, thanks to you. I am interested in getting your Vegetable garden diary to help plan sowing times, I have had a big lag between my Summer harvest ending(which was good) and now waiting on all my winter vege(mainly brassicas, beats, spinach, carrots and peas that I planted at the beginning of Autumn) to be ready for harvest. There’s been a period between autumn and winter where the beds are all full but there’s been not much to harvest, everything takes so long to grow at this time of year, but I would like to try and correct this, plant earlier and have a more continual harvest.
    Would I still be able to utilize your book due to the time frames being different?

    Kind Regards,

    1. Hi Hamish
      Yes the book will work for timings if you transpose 6 months!
      It sounds a good plan.
      We hope to release the Diary as ebook soon.

  113. Hi Charles, during this period of lockdown and the recent days of heavy rain, I have been occupying my time catching up on some or your recent excellent videos on YouTube – thanks for that. I have 4 raised beds which are 2.5 x 1.25 metres and I grow a mixed bag of veg which we like to eat. I also use a lot of containers like potato bags and plastic planters for a variety of salad crops and as a result I find I collect a fair amount of used multi-purpose potting compost which I clean up (i.e. remove any roots etc.) and keep in plastic sacks. What do you suggest I use this for on my garden. I also have a Hotbin which makes great compost. Could I mix the two to re-use or could I use it as a top dressing on my raised beds? What do you think? Many thanks and look forward to your next video.

    1. Thanks Alan and yes use that compost as top dressing, plus spread some of your hotbin compost, no need to mix them because soil organisms will do that for you.
      I would not remove roots from the bag compost, it’s all good for soil life to feed on.

  114. Hi Charles,

    Just love watching your videos so much. When do you sow onion seeds (bulb) for overwintering?

    Thanks very much,


  115. 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

  116. 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!

    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.

  117. 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

  118. 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!

  119. 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.

          2. Hello Charles,
            How do you protect your seedlings from slugs in your greenhouse ?
            Do you mean that using compost for germination keeps away the slugs from the greenhouse?
            Well, i loose half of my production in the greenhouse itself and another 20% on the plantations.
            Thanks for your response.

          3. Hi Liliana
            I keep my greenhouse very clean and quite dry near the seeding area. This means little habitat for slugs. I tackle the source of the problem, so look for where they hide by day. Go out in the dusk with a torch and knife, to reduce their numbers 🙂

      2. Bonjour Charles,
        Since the slug invasion i took upon on NODIG + COMPOST MEULCH on the rest of my garden space. I bought the compost from a recycling centre (30E/M3) and tested lettuces directly on the compost and it works wonderful against slugs … no sign on them but the compost meulch looks dry on the surface and my fellow veteran gardeners warns me that it is too strong for young seedlings…
        Are you mixing with other substances to reduce the force of the compost or you leave the meulch for some months before the culture ?
        Anyways it seems to be interesting to gain time against weeds with cardboards and fight slugs with compost meulch 🙂
        Thanks again Charles, keep it up (y)

        1. Your fellow gardeners do not understand this method or about compost, which is not “too strong”, otherwise we would all not be enjoying successful gardens 🙂
          We all need not to listen to much nonsense which is out there.
          I plant in compost, surface mulch, and NEVER add soil with it. I rarely use capitals but am asked this so often, want to emphasise it!

          1. Thank you so much for your patience and willingness to repeat yourself Charles. We appreciate you so much.

  120. 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.

  121. 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.

  122. 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.

    2. Bryan, I’ve been able to add more compost to my containers, it breaks down over the winter months. Usually about 3/4-1”. I also find adding a bit of native soil or bat guano (for microbes) makes the plants a lot happier. Good luck

  123. 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?

  124. 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.

    2. Hi John, I am just starting out this year and have found good quality organic compost at a local company who run a quarry. They make compost from landscapers’/developers’ clearings and collecting from people who dispose of their garden and yard waste and so on. Many US municipalities are starting to run composting programs so you might check with your city to see what they have available. When in doubt contact anyone who ends up with a lot of green waste. If they don’t have any extra compost available they might be able to point you in the right direction. Check with woodworkers too, they may dispose of sawdust and shavings that is composted. Good luck.

  125. 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.

  126. 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?

    1. Ah thanks. maybe Winter Vegetables bought elsewhere, or subscribe to Steady to support my work, it’s European version of Patreon, v new!

  127. 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!

    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

  128. 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.

  129. 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.

  130. 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.

  131. 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.

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

  132. 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

    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.

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

  134. 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!!!

  135. 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.

  136. 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!

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

  137. 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…

  138. 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.

  139. 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

    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.

    2. Hello Michelle. I too grow quite a few veg in pots. Dear hubby is the cook in our home and is mobility challenged. I have recently found a “system” for raising humidity and cooling soil temps. I save clear plastic food containers (from the salad bar items, bulk peanut butter etc.) I place a slender empty clay pot inside, fill it with water and set these in between the pots. It increases the humidity and stabilizes the temperatures a bit. I haven’t had trouble with mold or bugs, I use the water on the plants every few days and replace with fresh. (If you try to poly lining side dressing the pots with sharp sand helps keep slugs down.) Hope this helps.

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

  140. 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. Ah thanks Joyce, this is nice to hear and yes we are lucky, plus the weather even is good for now 🙂

  141. 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.

  142. 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.

  143. Hi Charles,
    Please can you advise RE: Timings and varieties of edamame for planting out?
    many thanks,

  144. 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.

  145. 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

  146. 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,

    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.

  147. Hello,
    i live in zone 6a, do you have a sowing seeds schedule for my zone?
    thanks , much appreciated

    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.

  148. 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.

  149. 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.

  150. 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.


    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

  151. 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.

        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.

          1. Hi Reda,
            I hope you’ll see this late comment…
            For advice on growing in the desert you might want to check out Geoff Lawton’s ‘Greening the desert’ site in Jordan. There are several videos on youtube documenting the site evolving over the last 10 years!

  152. 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.

  153. 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

  154. 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 🙂

  155. 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.

  156. 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? ( 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.

  157. 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!

    1. Hi TJ, yes Blackwells is your best bet for that.
      Thanks for your feedback and I hope your plants find a home 🙂

  158. 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 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 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!

  159. 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.

  160. 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.

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

  162. 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!

    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!

          1. I am trying Augusta onion seeds from the Real Seeds company this year – they say they can overwinter if you sow in the autumn, but not guaranteed. I’ve always used Radar variety sets from the Organic Gardening Catalogue (now run by Dobie’s with a lot fewer varieties) but after reading Charles’ caution about mildew I am taking the gamble. Maybe I should try both as this is a worrying year and I don’t want to lose my harvest!

          2. Also Rosalind it depends on the winter – in 2019-20 everything survived! Grow White Lisbon too, sow late August for both green and bulb onions, not keepers though.

  163. 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

    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.

  164. 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

      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

  165. 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.

  166. 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.

  167. 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!

  168. 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


    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

  169. 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,

    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.

  170. 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. Gosh Brexit, it frightens me! Lovely to hear this Lizzie, you are back in and may you be mostly weed free.

      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!

  171. 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

    1. Thanks for your comment Nick, and yes leafy vegetables are good in shade, root veg too and herbs, try a few things!

  172. 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.

  173. 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.

  174. 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?

  175. 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.

  176. 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

  177. 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.

  178. 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!

  179. 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.

  180. 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.

          1. That compost reactor look to be of real interest. I hope it will be available to see next weekend? I’ve downoaded the construction details and will share then with my friend.

            Well worth the experiement.

            Thanks for the comment.

          2. Sorry to have missed the Johnson-Su Reactor. If once buit it only needs a daily watering it may well be worth building.

          3. Gah yes sorry Suella, I forgot to show you!!
            I have watered it 5 times since March.
            Shall post some results in December.

          4. Johnson-su Composter. Very useful to hear that it doesn’t need daily waterig. Not sure where I will put one at the moment but I love making compost and feeding the soil.

            Curently bringing home 2-4 x2 gallon buckets of fresh horse boluses and cardboard from the local greengrocer on an almost daily basis. I have 7 daleks and a Green Johanna to keep full. I have 4 wooden pallet sided bins, which will be converted to 2 bins when I remove the made compost. As it drops I’m itching to add more stuff but I do want to spread the made compost soon. and rebuild the bins. You’ve inspired me to increase the size and have a more structured cover on my wooden binned compost at your August Intensive Weekend. Well worth the trip from Nottingham.

            I’m astounded and grateful how quickly the worms are colonizing the fresh horse muck.

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