Charles speaking 2018 talk

Charles speaking at Bleddfa Centre, Herefordshire January 2018

I attend many events around the country delivering talks for clubs and organisations on a range of topics, mostly No Dig methods for vegetable and flower growing. You can find a brief list of my coming talks below, or full details of future talks, shows and courses on my Events page.

Here is a description of a talk, see below for the most popular talk on no dig. I also speak on Winter Vegetables, Salad Leaves and Gardening Myths.

If you are interested, please contact me to discuss your requirements.

Many clubs charge for non-members to buy tickets. The link below shows a poster for one of my talks in 2017.

Dowding flyer

Also contact Stephanie Hafferty for talks on garden potions and no dig gardening.

2018 feedback

David Graves, St Albans talk 09/06/18

On behalf of the Sandridge Road Allotment Association, a very big thank you for your presentation yesterday. The audience was transfixed and would have kept you talking for the rest of the day if they were able to. We were pleased to get a hundred people with a mix of SRAA members, plus members from other allotment associations, and organisations in the area. There was a lot of networking going on before and after your presentation, and a lot of very positive feedback.

Gareth Roberts of Regather, talk for Sheffield’s Festival of Debate, April 2018 at the University

Many thanks for making the journey to Sheffield last week, and providing such a fantastic and stimulating talk for our audience. Everyone loved it!

David Hine, chair of Surrey NVS, talk 16/03/18

A big “Thank you” for talking at our meeting last Wednesday evening, I hope that you enjoyed the evening as much as the 150 people who attended, I have received numerous thank you messages saying how much they enjoyed the talk, plus how they took away lots of ideas on how to move to “No Dig” gardening

Andrew Caldwell, talk to Dulverton Gardening Club, 19/01/18

Thanks for your talk to us for which there was a record attendance.

You provided ‘something for everyone’ and your excellent supporting images provided very good illustrations of your various points and practices.

The Bleddfa Centre Newsletter, January 2018

Our sold Out ‘No Dig’ Event was a Huge Success! Charles Dowding gave a friendly, informative and inspirational ‘No Dig’ talk, which saw Hall Barn absolutely packed to full capacity!  The feedback from attendees was excellent, including “Fantastic talk and exceptional food, well worth the 2 and a half hour drive” and “Beyond expectations!“.

A warm and heartfelt thank you to Charles for making the trip to Bleddfa, and thank you to the guests for coming along to be inspired by Charles and to share some supper together.


A summary of my No Dig talk

Fully illustrated, 60-90 minutes on how to encourage soil life and enjoy harvests for less time and effort, followed by questions and answers.

Charles explains how he makes, buys and uses compost of different kinds.

How to clear perennial weeds with mulches, including couch grass and bindweed.

How to maintain a no dig plot, with an annual mulch of compost.

As well as hearing all the time saving tips, you see photos of the trials Charles runs to compare the effects on growth of dig/no dig, different composts and no rotation.

Charles explains these other benefits of no dig:

  • earlier harvests thanks to a dark surface and busy soil life
  • fewer weeds, especially in summer and autumn
  • a smaller area needed to crop the same amount
  • less watering
  • soil drains well thanks to undisturbed channels made by worms and other organisms
  • a longer harvest season, because successional sowing and planting in summer is so easy

And Charles gives a special mention for salads, with tips on sowing and picking, to keep plants producing for longer.

Other illustrated talks I give

All include an overview of no dig as it underpins everything:

  • Gardening Myths: I reveal many time saving methods, once you see how many unnecessary jobs we have been taught to do, new methods based on my long experience and research.
  • Succeed with Succession: how to plan and execute summer sowings and plantings, to enjoy more harvests in autumn, winter and spring, also with tips on clearing and storing.
  • Salad Leaves All Year: much of this comes from picking skills which I explain, plus sowing dates and methods, with the best salad veg for each season.

More feedback

from Becky King, February 2017:

I attended the talk in Ledbury last week and was literally hanging off Charles’ every word. I’ve been meddling with growing veg with varying success, mainly in containers for about 3 years now, and since moving to a place where I was lucky enough to have a vegetable plot, I just felt like I hadn’t got a clue what the heck I was doing! There’s so much conflicting advice that I was floundering. Until I read one of Charles’ books, attended the talk and read every inch of his website…I now have a plan and feel vaguely confident 😃 Charles has a knack of just instilling confidence in you and he comes across as very genuine and passionate, so you instantly trust in his methods. I was also impressed with how much information he provides for free…so many videos and advice on his website 😊just immediately makes you feel confident that this method will work. Don’t mind spending the money on the books then!

Christine Haines 2016, St Briavels and Brockweir Gardening Club
“I’ve lost count of the members who have said how much they enjoyed it – I’m basking in your reflected glory for having booked you!! It was obvious from the number of questions at the end how involved and interested everyone was. You combined the expertise gained from experience with a delivery that gave advice pitched just right for the audience. So we were able to admire and learn without being intimidated – even if our rows of veg don’t quite look like those in your excellent photos!” 

May 2016 from Denise Hoogesteger, Chair

“Thank you so much for the wonderful talk you gave to us at Westbury Gardening club. I was surprised at how many members and non-members were in attendance, as vegetable growing, I know, does not ‘fire up’ some of our older members, however I am just wondering now, how many may attempt to have a small raised bed for organic veg!
For myself, when I reorganise my veg beds I will know what to do.
Everyone, whether vegetable growers or non-organic gardeners, found your talk interesting, highly informative and inspirational. I don’t think we have ever had such a long question time at the end of a talk.”

Chris Donaldson, Four Villages Hort. Society November 2015

Your talk to us last Thursday certainly put paid to many of the myths about vegetable growing and will save a lot of work in the future.

Garden Organic conference September 2015, email from Kate Newman

Everyone really enjoyed both your workshop and the talk – all the feedback scores were excellent 

From a feedback form to the Garden Museum, London 10.03.15

“This was one of the best presentations I have been to of late. Charles Dowding spoke with such authority in a warm, almost self-effacing manner. The time flew by and I came away enthused and determined to adopt a no dig approach to growing this season and beyond.”


Henry Smith, Chideock Discussion Club, Dorset, February 2015

“Thank you very much for coming and talking to our club last evening, your talk was very interesting and your slides demonstrated what you have done with a bare field.

I think all our members will be trying your idea of Growing without Digging on some of their gardens this year, I’m pleased to say that I am in my second season without digging this year and certainly didn’t have as many weeds last year.”