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Save time, grow more with Charles Dowding

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Welcome

PracticalJournalistOfTheYearWelcome to the website of Charles Dowding, innovative gardener, author of seven books on caring for soil and growing vegetables. I also share knowledge through talks, courses and regular magazine articles which won me the award of 2014 Garden Media Guilds ‘Practical Journalist of the Year’.

The site shows productive ways to grow food, and with less weeding,  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.  There is more information in my courses, books, talks and videos.

panorama sep 14

Homeacres is a small, intensive market garden, ideal for teaching, trialling and producing above all. From 900 square metres of beds, there is a steady supply of vegetables and especially salad leaves. With help from Steph in the time-consuming picking and packing, I deliver twice weekly March-October, and once a week in winter, to local shops and restaurants, mostly in Bruton.

February update 2017, first sowings, propagation & composts, no dig winter veg

Hooray let’s go. Undercover to start with, because outside it’s still vegetable winter, see the amazing differences between spring, summer and winter. I make no outdoor sowings before mid March, except for broad (fava) beans.

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February 2017 salads, slow sow, Kew Gardens, Q&A, Wikihow

Winter’s cold and more-or-less fine is turning in the UK to mild, wet and stormy, for the first half of February. Either way, I recommend you wait before sowing, except for broad beans. Check my diary and timeline for timings that save you time. Continue with any mulching and weed covering, then sow spinach, lettuce etc undercover from Valentine’s Day.

The cold has been great for softening surface mulches of compost, they look gorgeous now. Leave them on top, no need to fork in, see below.

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January 2017 soil care, compost quality, no sowing yet!

A happy new year to my readers, may your gardens be bountiful, and easier to look after.

When does the gardening year begin? You could pick any date from October to March, depending where you live (snow on the ground, or not) and whether your soil is clear of weeds. In much of the UK, you can mulch soil with compost in January, if you have not already. Check this half-minute video for the essence of no dig preparation, when soil has been kept clear of weeds using a little and often approach.

In my diary I begin the sowing year on Valentines Day, because the rapidly lengthening days after mid-February make new growth more viable than when seeds are sown in January. For now, I recommend to sow nothing, and to finish soil preparation instead. Buy seeds and some potting compost, or sieve some of your own. The latter will probably have less nutrients, depending on what you added to the heap.

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December update, easy soil preparation, salads, Brussels

It has been mild here, after a freezing first four days when we had two nights of -6.5C (20F). That was cold enough to freeze plants in the polytunnel and greenhouse, and to damage older salad plants outside, but newer plantings outdoors have survived well, see below.

The frost was good for softening lumps of surface compost, and for sweetening the flavour of parsnips and Brussels sprouts. Steph and I love them at this time of year, and homegrown ones taste quite different to most bought (non-organic) ones.

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Dec. 2016 winter veg, harvests, no dig success and starting out

 

Are you ready for cold weather?  November was 4.5C (8F) cooler than last year, and December looks to be cool, perhaps with snow around the solstice. Otherwise mostly dry. 

November was above average rainfall here because of the wet spell from 19th-21st (see below, no dig drainage), but otherwise it was fine and the sunshine total of 90hrs contrasts with 33hrs last November. This morning 30th it was -7C (19F) here.

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