Welcome to the website of Charles Dowding!

Charles Dowding is Practical Journalist of the Year, Garden Media Guilds November 2014 

West part of garden Nov 14

"Another manual which I want to keep is a slim volume from Charles Dowding who has revolutionised the way we grow vegetables, by the no-dig method. He is the arch experimenter and discarder of old techniques."
Mary Keen on my Myths book, The Spectator Nov 22nd 2014.

"How to clear weedy ground, increase fertility and then keep weed growth to a minimum are what everybody needs to 
know when making a new garden. As ever, Charles shows us how by doing it himself and allowing us the pleasure of 
following his progress in this inspiring new book. If this doesn't encourage more of us to turn our gardens into 
productive and beautiful spaces, I don't know what will."
Anne Swithinbank's endorsement, after seeing the manuscript of "How to Create a New Vegetable Garden", published February 2015.

This site shows productive ways to grow food, for harvests over long periods,  using a lovely way of caring for soil - undug and with a light covering of compost on top, based on my experience of growing vegetables without tillage for thirty years, for less weeds and more harvests.  There is more information in my books, courses, talks and videos.

I sell produce from Homeacres garden. From an area of only 800 square metres of beds, there is steady abundance, especially of salad leaves which go twice a week March-October (once a week in winter) to local shops and restaurants, mostly in Bruton.  See a review in the Sunday Telegraph, October 2014.

main garden from E corner

Christmas present why not give a voucher for one of my day courses here 

This review of my Journal book in March 2014 explains no dig succinctly

Films on You Tube, see Charles Dowding channel and videos here, on sowing, planting, salads, hotbeds, harvesting and dig/no dig experiments.

Coming Up has information on talks and other courses I am giving.

This Month has tips for keeping up to date with harvesting, clearing and composting, and the latest from my garden at Homeacres.

Dig/No dig Homeacres has record of harvests in 2013, 81.82kg dug, 83.24kg undug, and progress for 2014. One bed is dug and its compost dug in, the other bed is surface-composted, without any disturbance of soil. There are photos of growth up to late November 2014 and a table of harvests to December 1st, both beds have given a phenomenal 104kg with results closely matched.

Dates for courses, new dates for 2015 now posted

Books includes details of my new book, appearing spring 2015. How to create a new vegetable garden

The therapy of gardening, work in Coventry prison by Robin Baxter  and see also how Robin created a no dig allotment

"Thank you so much for all I have been able to learn from you in the last two years. It has revolutionised my gardening." Janet James, Portsmouth 2014

Panorama

The photo above is by Michael Denney, Homeacres in October 2014

Also

An interview for localeyez 

Charles is appointed patron of Carymoor Environmental Centre

See nurseryman Alan Down's impression of Homeacres in September 2013, when the garden was 8 months old and fully productive

Naomi Schillinger's visit to Homeacres in August 2013  (one correction, she says 6" manure/compost on all beds, but there are different depths of 3-7" and many have no boards on their sides, which are temporary until paths are clean of weeds):

 

My Previous garden, six miles away at Lower Farm BA98JG

 

 Above and below, from three summers ago in 2012: it was no dig for 15 years:

 

  29.08.2012, more than half of this garden was double cropped, after I cleared the spring and summer harvests, including from left garlic replaced by intersown beetroot, lettuce by oriental leaves, garlic and spinach by lettuce, pea shoots and peas by lettuce and endive, lettuce and broad beans by land cress and kale, cabbage and cauliflower by fennel and spinach.

 


TOP FIELD at Lower Farm 2011:

                         
In September 2011, including beds of summer leaf lettuce, and the same beds late November 2011 (for 2012 see below)

 garlic harvest June 2011; few weeds among the garlic, soil clean at harvest time makes re-planting  quick and simple


and this is the same bed in October: after the garlic harvest it was planted with kale, flower sprouts and dwarf french beans in early July, and oriental leaves in late August. No extra compost or manure.

"I visited Charles' garden some four years ago when he held his annual open day. It turned into a life changing afternoon out. The rotavator was sold and we have never dug since. Our vegetable patch now provides us with virtually all our vegetable needs, is totally organic and looks a picture too. Thank you Charles" - A comment on www.sawdays.co.uk/self catering/blog/no-dig-gardening 16th March 2012 

 Overwintered cauliflower, 18/04/11


  ready for winter, October 2010

Aerial view!

 Sep 2012 from a friend's plane! shows bottom garden on left, top garden on right and orchard above

The gardens at Lower Farm comprised three distinct blocks. Firstly the old kitchen garden, about a quarter acre in size, had rich soil and cropped for 15 years, having been a goat paddock when I took it on. I was in a hurry to plant beans and garlic, so I dug it over and shaped up the beds in late 1997, the last time it was cultivated in any way. There was also a 14'x60' polytunnel, two hen runs and many apple trees trained along fences.

            
September 2011, old kitchen garden, second plantings                               and in September 2012

Secondly there was a triangular corner of the larger field above, which I took on from compacted wheat stubble in late 1999. The soil is clay and had been so squashed by tractors that it was airless and dead, and there were few weeds growing - docks and grasses mostly, which I removed before mulching with manure - and then in 2000 the vegetables barely grew in undug beds. However I persevered with simply putting compost and manure on top of the beds I had shaped up, and vegetables grew better every year. In 2001 they were acceptable, in 2002 they were good, and from then on harvests were excellent. Furthermore, drainage became faster than in the cultivated field above. In the bottom corner, where the soil was originally worst of all, was an 18'x30' polytunnel.

                
September 2011 Top Field, oriental leaves on left          and a different view of the top field in September 2012

Thirdly, in 2006 I took over another north facing, triangular patch at the bottom of the same field, which was considered too awkward for large machinery to cultivate. Apple trees were planted in January 2007, mostly eaters of many kinds, and I experimented with ways of mulching the weedy pasture between them to grow vegetables. From this I can pass on some useful tips about how to clear ground of grass, weeds and of perennials such as dandelion and couch grass, all without digging.

The initial action of mulching with thick layers of cardboard, compost and manure in the first year leads to a massive boost in long term fertility and results in remarkably little weed growth. Subsequent years see much less time and compost needed, while soil continues to improve under dressings of one to two inches compost or well rotted manure.

                
September 2011, espalier apples, vegetables from the top;  and September 2012 from the bottom

All the garden soil reached a state of fertile, full bodied liveliness and excellent drainage. Its annual maintenance consisted of regular but minor weeding, to keep it clean at all times, cutting the grass edges and an annual spreading of one to two inches (3-5cm) well rotted compost and manure, preferably but not always in the autumn, and on all beds. Those for spring sowings of small seeds such as carrot and parsnip receive the finest compost.

And now, this garden is history. Gardens without gardeners grow into something different, fast.