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No-Dig Gardening

No-dig gardening is a technique pioneered in the UK by Charles Dowding since 1983. In recent years Charles has been working out of his allotment garden in Somerset called Homeacres.

The principle is based on adding a barrier of cardboard directly on the grass and covering with a few inches of compost and planting directly into this. Each year the compost is topped up with another few inches of compost.

Before having the raised beds I turned a patch of my allotment over to no-dig and had some great results. What surprised me was the great crop of potatoes, carrots and parsnips. We are told that ground must be dug and all stones removed so carrots and parsnips can grow straight and long but the no-dig method doesn’t need any digging so I was pleasantly surprised when straight carrots and parsnips plus potatoes were harvested a few months later.

The only disadvantage to this method I could find was the amount of compost needed each year. Of course there will be a moment when your own compost heap will keep you supplied but until then you may need to buy in a few tons of compost. For me here in London it wasn’t cheap in the initial stages. A ton of compost cost me £50 and I needed 4 tons. Over subsequent years I wouldn’t need anything like that amount and could have got by on just buying 2 tons until my own compost bin started producing enough material.

Having had the opportunity to visit his gardens, it truly is inspiring to walk around and notice not only the lack of weeds, great crops packed with flavour but also the lack of pests and diseases on the produce.

Over the year I’ve met and spoken to Charles many times and often when I have my video camera. Here are previous interviews I’ve conducted with Charles include his own videos from his gardening in Somerset, UK.

My first meeting with Charles in 2012 when he explains what the no-dig gardening method is.


About Sean James Cameron

Based in London, Sean has been gardening since being a teenager. Although vegetables and fruit is the main passion, there is also room for flowers.

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