With no dig becoming more popular worldwide, we decided to create an annual day of celebration.
This year, No Dig Day was Friday 3rd November.
No dig allows you to work in harmony with your soil for healthy plants and bumper crops, without huge effort. Leave soil undisturbed, and feed soil life at the surface with organic matter. That’s it!
With this method, soil drains well, holds warmth and moisture, and retains organic matter and carbon. You can pop in seeds and plants at any time, with no mud. And the best thing of all is that weeds are few, so you have more time for creative gardening and making compost.
On the morning of 3rd November we posted an image taken in the Homeacres garden on Facebook and Instagram for the funniest caption.
Facebook - Sharon Cheer
CAT - "now here's one I prepared earlier from a CD 60 tray
Instagram - @queenofseed
Charles Dowding releases new gardening method #nomovementgardening
Thank you for all your entries!
For this year's No Dig Day, we ran two children's competitions: Veg Art, and Best Veg Garden.
We were sent some fantastic Veg Art creations and these are the winners!
7 years and under category
Fionn, age 3, from Dublin, and his wonderful Cucumbosaurus!
Fionn is 3 and loves working with his father, Matt, in their garden in Dublin. They use no dig methods to grow fruit and vegetables in the greenhouse and outside beds and Cucumbosaurus was made from their own cucumbers from the greenhouse.
Matt also teaches gardening classes to community groups in Dublin: @dublin15_gardener
Isabelle, age 9, from Bejing, and her Radbaby creation!
Isabelle sent us photos of Radbaby in many different outfits - these are just two of them, ‘Radbaby Wrapped’ (radish, letuce, spring onion) and ‘Radbaby Likes to Disco’ (radish, cabbage, celery, zinnia)!
She said: I love to watch Mr. Dowding’s YT videos, having had pneumonia just recently, the videos have helped me a lot to relax, plus the beautiful autumnal sunshine here in Beijing. My mum and I found several over-ripe radishes in our garden and thought to make some fun figurines with them, hope you enjoy them! I am looking forward to having my own bed for my strawberries next spring. They are so delicious! My mum and I would like to thank you for inspiring us to keep on planting.
We were also sent many wonderful entries for Best Veg Garden 2023, and the winners are...
The children of the Eco Committee, ages 4-11,
at Holy Trinity Sunningdale Primary School in Berkshire.
With the help of parent volunteers, the children have created an allotment-style garden on their school playing field. They are using the no dig method which 'suits small people as well as the precious soil'. They now also have a greenhouse, and money has been raised by Savan, age 7, (sponsored triathalon) for a polytunnel. A local family have also donated a good amount of woodchip for the children to use to shape the garden. The children are so proud of their new project.
The photo shows some committee representatives with their onion bed and garlic beds.
What a fantastic effort!
We also have very close runner-up, Alby, age 9 (@nodigkid on Instagram)
Alby's mother explained:
This is a photo of Alby’s garden which he started at the beginning of this year. Alby single-handedly learnt the No Dig method from Charles, then taught his family, and has worked out all the sowing dates, spacing and plans for this productive little patch that keeps us well fed. He’s told us what to buy in order to transform the top of our garden into No Dig beds and has bigger plans for next year.
Alby has grown enough courgettes, squash and salads that we haven’t needed to buy any throughout summer and had plenty to give away as well. He’s also grown pumpkins, carrots, radishes, Brussels sprouts, kale, swede (yet to be harvested), and dwarf French beans – very impressive!
Congratulations to you both!
NO DIG GLOBAL
No dig has gone global! If you would like your garden or allotment to be featured on our no dig world map, please send some details, plus a photo if possible, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also share your location!
It is fantastic to see no dig working in different countries and climates. We hope this will encourage more people to go no dig and grow their own food.
The map can be viewed on the No Dig Global page of this website.
Grimston, King's Lynn
Charles's books and videos have been unbelievably helpful, instructive and inspiring and I pass on details to all gardening people I know! At the moment I have three books and two calendars - far from finished!
I was already "no-digging" from about 2016 onward in my previous garden on Essex clay, but without the knowledge and experience which Charles and his books and videos provided from winter 2020-21 onwards, in my new garden in Norfolk. (Removers' cardboard boxes, stored since the summer, were invaluable.) His use of multisowing, path/bed proportions, compost-making, interplanting and succession were all novelties for me, and all have worked brilliantly. Course Book 1 was read over and over. Sowing dates and the planning for winter crops in the greenhouse and early spring in and outdoors are the icing on the cake: we just have so much more food from the garden now.
My vegetable plots are one area of 7 x 5.5 m, plus a strawberry bed and a bean row. I'd like more but it would mean losing a beautiful apple tree or some of the ornamental garden.
The photo is from May 2022.
This is year one of our new vegetable garden. Correction: year two. Because unlike what we were used to doing (up to three times), this time we did not start digging and fertilising - but composting.
I used to often feel disappointment in my vegetable garden when my carrots did not look in the slightest like the orange power carrots listed on the packaging. I had a lot to learn about adding the right fertiliser, at the right time, for the right vegetables.
Until I understood through No Dig that with compost, we feed the soil in all its facets and complexity. We bring life to the soil, so to speak.
Point - that's all I need to know. With No Dig, I don't need to know it all in detail. By disturbing the soil as little as possible and working with compost, I let nature do its work.
So last year, Vegetable Gardening began by starting compost bins. Chopping wood, mowing the lawn and going to ask our (surprised) neighbours for more - slowly but surely the bins got filled.
Happy as a child, I watched the temperature rise in the compost bins, how I set in motion something that has been working this way for millions of years. I felt how the stored solar heat radiated 1:1 from the compost.
Insects, fungi a rat that began to set up this heated house - vegetable gardening had begun long before it began.
Nr. Dounby, Orkney
When covid arrived in 2020, all my travel plans were put on hold and the empty shelves of the local supermarkets prompted me to go back to cultivating my own veg as l had done for 40 years without chemicals or artificial fertilisers. Raised beds and the no-dig concept were appealing as l was retired and planning ahead realised there would come a time when l could no longer dig. Inspired by Dr Christine Jones and the Biofarm Nots Conference of 2020, Richard Perkins etc. my journey and adventure with no dig began.
I am based in Orkney, half a mile from the village of Dounby surrounded by agriculture and an SSSI to the west of me. l keep bees, grow trees from seeds, have a 2 acre garden and 500 miles west of Richard Perkins 59°N with a 5 month growing season. So far my No dig experience has been a great adventure and still learning. Enjoying Charles's No dig recipe book and calendar.
l am on Facebook as Jeannine Dollé.
I have been following Charles and No dig since about 2016 when reading about him. I had taken on a garden with raised beds and started No dig.
I was living near Havant at the time and Charles did a talk at Hayling Island Horticultural Society.
I was hooked, I also started an allotment near there.
In Feb 2022 I moved to a village just outside of Bath only have a small garden but managed to find an allotment about a ten minute drive away which I took on in Feb 2022.
Attached are 2 photographs one at the start and one taken later October 2023 a couple of weeks after planting my garlic and onions.
My allotment is at the Hartley Farm Shop, Winsley, Wiltshire. If anyone would like to visit, please get in touch: email@example.com
Blackmore Vale, Dorset
I began my gardening journey in 1976 growing a wide range of organic vegetables for my family in various gardens and allotments, digging or forking the ground and turning in cow and horse manure delivered by the local farmer.
In 2007 We moved to the heavy clay of the Blackmore Vale, Dorset, and needed to establish a new garden where there was only grass and some elderly apple and pear trees. Fortunately our free weekly local newspaper had a regular article written by Charles Dowding in which he described no dig and recommended it on heavy clay. I also bought his first book and later in the year visited his garden. Using his recommendations I established a vegetable and soft fruit garden buying in horse manure and green waste compost. As a result of no-dig and making our own compost the soil is now in wonderful shape and produces a wide range of fruit and vegetables. We are now self- sufficient in vegetables and fruit having added cordon apples and plum and cherry trees. Having purchased a hefty shredder we produce enough compost for mulching and have deliveries of woodchip from a local tree surgeon. Our trees provide a wealth of leaf mould.
We have 2 greenhouses for tomatoes, peppers, chillies, aubergines and cucumbers. In the winter they provide salad leaves and garlic.
The rest of the garden is devoted to wildlife and plants for pollinators. I am a natural beekeeper and have been awarded a wildlife friendly garden plaque from the local wildlife trust.
Port Orchard, Washington State
We have rainy winters, warm, dry summers in a marine environment. Problems include deer, rabbits, slugs, mildew, and white fly.
Colwall, Malvern Hills
I have an acre of alkaline clay on the Herefordshire side of the Malvern Hills and have raised vegetable beds, a 10x12 Hartley Botanic Greenhouse, a small polytunnel and ordinary vegetable beds.
My husband is an enthusiastic compost maker, and we often joke that he could open the heaps to the public. We have fruit trees, soft fruit and grow lots of different vegetables, especially those we really like.
I have saved seeds for as long as I can remember, encouraged by a neighbour whose runner bean seed dated from the1930's. He always told me they adapted to the soil and I've done the same for decades. I also save most of my tomato seeds (not F1), runner and climbing French beans, garlic and potatoes, dill and parsley. I save all the calendula and other companion plants and all my annuals.
We are totally organic, and have always been interested in the soil inspired by our long membership of the Henry Doubleday Ryton Gardens when it was a flourishing concern. Charles is now my guru and I am always grateful for the ongoing inspirational YouTube videos and the amount of knowledge he so freely shares with us all.
Groland Community Garden
Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada
I have been a No Dig Gardener ever since I came across Charles online, for about 5 years.
Having a similar climate (though obviously not the same day by day) as Homeacres, we can benefit from the schedules and advice: it is great receiving the emails.
Our first community garden called "Groland” (our street is called Roland Road), hopes to expand via satellite gardens on small plots shared by our community members. It is part of the idea of growing (green and) local on our island… which is otherwise served by ferries from the mainland and Vancouver Island which is, clearly, not eco-friendly.
This autumn we will add to the 4 small raised beds by creating 2 new long beds using the Lasagne, cardboard and compost method that has worked so very well for us at home. I and my husband have vegetable plots around our home, domestic - not commercial though we do aim to give lots of bounty away each year, we are also on a (9’ shallow) dug well which we manage ourselves.
Water is a big issue where we live, with severe water restrictions every summer for many parts of the island.
If you are interested to know how our community garden is developing, go to the "Groland Community Garden Diary" link on the top menu bar -here
Wimbledon Guild Community Garden
A volunteer-run Community Garden which uses No Dig methods to supply organic vegetables to Wimbledon Guild’s HomeFood Cafe. Open Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays 11:00-14:00, weather permitting.
Our vegetable plot is about 100 square meters, located 500 meters above sea level on the north side of Lake Geneva. I started "NO DIG" in 2021 after watching Charles' videos and buying his books and calendars. When my neighbour saw me putting down all the cardboard at first she thought it looked like I was making lasagne.
NO DIG helps me to continue gardening, the job of digging or forking is too strenuous for me now. I am very pleased with the abundance the vegetable plot produces and I love watching the seedlings grow on my windowsill.
What I like best is the method of picking the outer leaves of the salads. That way we have a harvest much sooner and longer instead of waiting for the heads to form and then cutting the whole thing off.
I have been a market gardener for 2 years, growing for food banks, individuals and restaurants.
Before getting into market gardening, I was a construction contractor for 25 years and I needed a change in my life, I prepared for ten years to cultivate on 200 ft2 in the backyard where we lived in Montreal, I was inspired by Philip Forrer and then by watching dozens of videos on permaculture, I discovered No Dig by Charles Dowding.
I immediately fell in symbiosis with this way of farming. I watched all the videos on the channel and I felt ready for a new adventure, so I closed my construction business at 51, sold our house and my partner and I moved to Rimouski as a partner, we found a magnificent piece of land with an almost new house but on the other hand the place where I installed my gardens was on a rocky cape. So I brought in a bulldozer with a 3' tooth to open the rock and for aeration then I spread a 3 inch layer of fill soil to have a bottom (6000 ft2 of surface) finally I I applied the principles of No Dig, several layers of cardboard and 12" of compost and for my paths I use BRF.
After two years of cultivation, the results are magnificent, we are completely self-sufficient in vegetables and small fruits and I wait for the first fruits from my new orchard. This year 2023, I harvested more than a ton of varied vegetables :)
Monbahus, Lot et Garonne
I have been no-digging for many, many years, but on moving to Monbahus, in the Lot et Garonne (France), 3 years ago I have been busy following Charles! I have also been busy persuading others to follow his methods.
The picture is of one of my 2 different veg gardens. The mesh fence around the outside of the veg gardens is to keep the deer out 😊
Lee and Jill
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Lucky enough to discover Charles' book in 2017 when this garden was started, no-dig from the beginning.
Plot is 404sqft/37sqM, 1/100 acre.
Use homemade compost, green waste, mushroom compost, and wood chip compost.
Very instensive garden, grow large amounts of food in small plot using trellis/vertical gardening, succession planting, start plants indoors under lights. No dig has enabled large harvests on a small city yard.Highlights this past summer were watermelons and sweetcorn, plus 15kg raspberries. Grow a variety of everything, including an asparagus patch and hop bines.
"Gardening for Life No Money Required" is a book we published back in 2013.
I have the privilege of teaching gardening around the world through a program called Farmer to Farmer for the last 16 years. I have made many overseas trips to 12 third-world countries. We have a No-Dig Garden here in south central Montana. I also presented a TEDx talk in Billings, Montana on Oct 7th, 2023, titled: "To Change the World, Change the Soil." The YouTube video is now being edited for a later release.
Attached is a photo of me in our NO-Dig Garden beds. It has over-produced for the last 3 years. Example: our tomato plants have reached over 5 Meters (17 feet) in length with hundreds of rare heirloom tomatoes. All raised beds have never been dug; simply good compost added on top of cardboard.
I teach No-Dig Gardening at a Montana homeless shelter, (The Montana Rescue Mission) for the past 3 years. I have garden instructors all over the world teaching farmers how to make and use GOOD Compost without digging their native soils.
Martin and Jean
Our 500sqm allotment has been no dig since 2016. The plot provides us with a huge variety of (daily) veg, fruit and some cut flowers.
Since adopting this growing method crop yields have increased and the plot is so much easier to manage.
Caulfield North, Victoria, Australia
My garden is small and still in its early days. We moved here about a year ago and the east courtyard was nothing but native weeds and spider plant (an absolute nuisance to remove the roots). It's not perfect but it's growing up slowly. I sow seeds almost every week, and am always trying to improve my property to ensure we are being responsible and sustainable where possible. Coming into spring has been the most exciting time to start learning about vegetable gardening, there's so much colour, possibility and deliciousness. Although our courtyard has a high fence which makes it difficult to achieve decent sun sometimes, we make do and plant accordingly as the sun moves higher in the sky.
The photo attached is of my main vegetable cropping area, it doesn't look like much but I'm doing my best, experimenting and learning as I go. The no dig technique is proving to be successful so far in terms of ease and conditioning the tired natural soil underneath, with worms, critters and bugs showing up to enjoy their new environment.
We have a beautiful garden in our house. This picture is of the backyard. We have vegetables, flowers and bonsai. The beds, fences, compost bin and shed are all hand-built using reclaimed materials.
When we started gardening here four years ago, we had minimal knowledge but thanks to Charles, we have started getting basic knowledge. No-dig was a revelation and an obvious choice for us since being in London, we have hard clay to start with.
We are big fans of Charles and have watched all of his videos. We also have some of his books. He is such an inspiration and a great teacher. We owe all the gardening knowledge to Charles. :)
Millie and Suzy
After reading Charles Dowding's Organic Gardening book, we started our no dig allotment in January 2017. The plot had been neglected for years and was overgrown with couch grass, bindweed and horsetail. Within 6 months we were harvesting our first vegetables, and we now grow an abundance of veg all year round.
I have a large allotment in North Dorset growing a variety of crops on stony soil. I have been growing for almost 50 years but switched to no-dig about eight years ago despite having known Charles for about 15 years! Fortunate to have access to plenty of organic cow manure for the plot and this is topped with home-made compost annually. The plot is about 20 rods and on a south-facing slope. Favourite outdoor crops include salad leaves, beetroot, sweetcorn, peas, garlic, broccoli, swede, celeriac and raspberries.
I regularly post on Instagram (@englishmanofthesoil) and occasional videos on YouTube. The plot is now very fertile and continues to astonish and teach me year on year. I am happy to show any local newbies (or not so local if you are coming down the A303) about the benefits of no-dig.
Favourite quote from a neighbouring plot. “I come up here for three hours on a Sunday morning and spend the whole time weeding. You pop in for ten minutes to grab some veg and yet your plot never seems to have any weeds!”
Stara Pazova, Serbia
In 2022, I moved from Belgrade to a small town, where I created my own little "no-dig" heaven - 15 beds of 8 meters each and a small orchard. We have very hot and dry summers and cold winters, so it’s very challenging climate for beginner gardeners. I am learning about growing vegetables every day, and I am very motivated to grow as much healthy food as possible for my young family.
Leinburg, near Nuremberg
Our garden is 150 square meters and no dig. The ground is sandy (it includes clay sometimes), it does not hold water for a long time and gets burned during the warm and hot months with scarce precipitation.
The upper part of the garden is 2.5 meters higher above sea level than the lower part, on a length of 22 meters. That’s why we built terraces to prevent erosion.
No dig works very well. Soil life is active, water drainage as well as water keeping are fine. The compost and organic mulches that cover the soil even forgive the kids’ playing soccer.
Also the trees got a green boost with the no dig beds and compost places around.
The healthy and colorful vegetables travel from the no dig beds to the kitchen on our family dining table. Some seeds start the new journey of sowing, planting, growing, and harvesting.
We are very happy with the results, especially regarding the limited amount of growing space available.
Hopefully, we’ll be able to scale up one day and extend the no dig gardening to other places, too :) In an ideal world, this would be a field where up to now soil is tilled.
YAAd, Karmiel, Israel
For several years now I have been perfecting the techniques and deepening my knowledge of growing vegetables in the garden.
By chance, I discovered Charles' content on YouTube and since then I have been addicted to the no dig method.
This method, which focuses on the cultivation of the soil, suits the life I'm trying to adopt for myself, and my family.
Creation alongside consideration of the earth and the environment.
Recently, I started spreading the news that the no dig method brings, to friends, family, and even started giving workshops and lectures on growing vegetables using this method.
My family and I enjoy fresh and delicious vegetables, without harming the life in the soil and without the need for weeding.
It is so gratifying to see that the method is expanding its distribution all over the world, and it makes me especially happy to see it happening here, in Israel.
West Moors, Dorset
I moved here in April 2023 and the garden was all lawn before, so it’s my first year. We have badgers, foxes & the occasional deer in the garden & it’s nice to have lots of wildlife around. Looking forward to my no-dig journey!
New Castle PA
I discovered Charles' work from an interest in compost use. What he was teaching just made sense. I tried his methods and the success was amazing. My garden is 4 years along now and still getting better. No backbreaking rototilling, easy weeding, rich home grown food. I'm very grateful to have run across Charles.
This is our southern California no dig plot. It is two rows that are roughly 4’ x 50’ each. Each season simply add more compost to the top of the rows. Here in Southern California, by the coast, winter season is the best for us. However, this summer season we did have a bountiful butternut squash harvest.
I have been running a no dig garden since 2020. I run my vegetable garden in raised beds. My ornamental and vegetable garden is approximately 1000 m2.
Robert Anthony Barrett
Yorkshire Wolds, North Yorkshire
I have been no dig gardening at this location for two years and it seems that Charle's sowing and planting times are at least two weeks later up here.
Despite that, this year's harvest was better than last for most crops.
We live in a plot of about 5 and a half acres where we look after 3 rescue ponies and some bee hives.
We started No Dig back in 2021 and have 15 raised beds of varying sizes, a polytunnel and a fruit cage which we will use in 2024.
The main beds are reasonably close to the beehives.
We have become self-sufficient in many vegetables and are discovering the joys of preserving food for the winter.
Seed saving, compost making and growing more flowers to attract predators to the beds where we seem to suffer from a lot of white fly. We love the concept of No Dig which falls in line nicely with our organic way of life.
Kim and Tommy
We moved to our house in December and inherited a large patch of grass.
We have worked hard to start growing the no dig way with a greenhouse, polytunnel and veg beds.
We did have some setbacks with all the rain at the beginning of the year but have had some good harvests.
Llanmaes, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales
We run Ali's Edibles market garden.
We were inspired by Charles in 2013 when we started, and have been doing No Dig ever since.
We grow on about 3/4 of acre and supply our village and a couple of restaurants and are happy to host a No Dig Day on 3rd November.
Chilthorne Domer, Somerset
Skool Beanz is a gardening club for children run from our very own No-Dig allotment, teaching them how to grow delicious veg, beautiful flowers and how to garden to help nature with plenty of upcycled art.
I took this plot on in autumn 2022 - it was covered in thistles, balsam, nettles and docks. We covered with cardboard and compost throughout winter which got rid of the weeds.
Backyard garden in Madrid - long hot summers, cold dry winters.
Raised beds - about 15m2.
Trees (apple, plum, almond, mulberry) and a white grape vine.
I have two plots, total area 17.5msq. This is my first year with an allotment. However I’ve been gardening for years.
After much research and reading Charles’s book, I decided to go down the no dig route.
I also wanted to create easy to maintain beds so that I can still be at my allotment into my eighties, my father was still pottering in a garden at 94.
Lovely little 36sq meter no dig patch on Roots Allotments, Bath. Thank you for being such an inspiration Charles D 🌞❤️
250m2 allotment we took over in March 2023, after it was neglected and unused for few years.
We are in our 1 year of no dig journey.
I grow in the backyards of two of my neighbours. I share a little bit with them, and everybody is happy.
The total space is 100m2 and in 2022 applying Charles' do-dig principles this space produced 315kg of kitchen-ready vegetables. Wow. This amount of food is triple what the same space produced two years ago before I found Charles. Thanks, and here's to better health through healthier soil.
72350, Sarthe, France
I have a small potager which I took over 2 years ago and since, have been applying no dig and following Charles' advice and methodology.
7 beds with different width and length. Sandy soil. Tiled footpaths.
I started in 2021 with no dig. I have 3 compost bays which I struggle to fill up.
My entire garden is in raised containers. I've been gardening like this for years. I prefer not having to get down low to work but also my plot was set on concrete so there wasn't much choice.
I started no dig only very recently by doing my best not to disturb the soil underneath and dropping fresh soil treatments at the top only. A few handfuls of compost or gardening soil is all you need, poke a hole with your finger and drop in a seedling or seed. Sprinkle some compost over top, gently pat and water. Mother nature takes care of the rest.
My favorite part about no dig is how easy the end of season is. Previously I would dig up all the old roots and till the soil for next season. This was so labour intensive I dreaded it! But now I love end of season. I simply twist out larger plants and cut smaller plants at the base making sure to leave the soil undisturbed. Then I cut the plants in small pieces and put them directly into my compost pile along with the dried fallen leaves, a few handfuls of compost and some splashes of water. Voilà - pots are ready for next spring and compost is started. Best method ever!
Wim de Roo
Our plot is about 2000 m² - the vegetable garden (200 m²), low stem orchard (1000 m²), forest garden/fenced chicken and mallard duck coop (800m²)
We started in 2015 with no-dig concept (old horse meadow). We have sandy soil, very dry.
Since i was a young man me, my parents and my grandparents spent hours and days digging all of our gardens. Now I have my own house and garden. Five years ago I find your videos on Youtube and since then I am working with the no dig method. This year I finally rework my whole garden using your instructions.
No Dig heirloom vegetable patch located at Four Acre Farm, The New Forest.
2 acre plot in the mountains of Cyprus, near Theletra. 5 vegetable growing sites up and down the mountainous area, primarily raised beds or sites now converted to no dig. Growing conditions very harsh in summer (35C+ for 5 months with no rain), but winters are very mild. In the worst of the heat we spend up to 10 hours per day watering! (Irrigation is slowly being set up!)
Veg garden in my city home garden. Two 4x8' raised beds, some in-ground beds and lots of plots.
Lagares da Beira, Portugal
I live in Central Portugal and have created my garden from nothing 9 years ago. I decided to use the no dig method with raised beds and pathways between, the same in my poly tunnel too. It’s been a challenge as the soil here has not had any nutrients for many years (our farm was abandoned for 50 years before we bought it in 2002) and was basically crushed granite with no organic matter. It took us 12 years to renovate the farm buildings but as we were travelling too and fro from the UK to do it we could not start a garden or plant anything!! I had to be very patient.
We finally moved to Portugal permanently in June 2014 so I could start to make my first garden here. It’s now a thriving area where I make lots of compost, we have animals to help with the manure and compost production as well. The soil has improved massively allowing me to grow all year round and the poly tunnel plays a big part in this. I also have a grape/kiwi arbour happily producing eating grapes and two varieties of kiwis as well as our own small vineyard. I grow massive quantities of tomatoes and vegetables for canning to keep us going through the winter, this year I have over 100L of tomatoes, vegetable sauce and tomato puree tucked away in the pantry.
I love my garden and hope to keep it producing well long into the future, the no dig method is absolutely key to our success. I shall be celebrating No Dig Day on 3rd November.
In 2015 my dream came true: I quit my office job after a burnout and moved from town to the country side with my husband. We found a beautiful old farmhouse (built 1800) in the middle of a village and were very surprised to find a meadow with old fruit trees behind this house (1500 square meters). NOW I could start my permaculture vision of a no dig veggie garden and a perennial food forest.
My husband always helped with the heavy stuff and by now everything is in full production so that we can give away many delicious crops to our neighbours. This year we launched a successful plant and seed swap in our community. We feel (are) so much wealthier and resilient with less money, it is amazing. And we can see how the soil live has exploded since and some citizens started their first no dig beds after a visit in our permaculture paradise.
George Mertens and Rita Lutz
We started our no dig Journey in 2021.
We are growing vegetables here in the northwest of Ireland on four different plots on our property. In total, we have about 120sqm under cultivation for vegetables and 7 raised beds totalling about 15sqm for medicinal and culinary herb cultivation.
We are using a small greenhouse at the moment entirely for seed propagation but hopefully we will be able to afford a polytunnel soon to extend the growing season and be able to grow more tender crops as well.
Our ultimate goal is to become food self-sufficient in the not-too-far-future.
Having moved to mid-Devon a little over eighteen months ago, one of the first jobs was to convert half of our small garden to no-dig, we have a wildflower meadow and pond in the other half. We moved from Oxfordshire where I had an allotment which was all no dig.
We've had amazing results in our first year thanks to Charles' advice.
Small, no dig garden, struggling with heat and drought 2023, but year round with great cool weather crops!
Trójca k/Zgorzelca, Poland
100 m2 of NO DIG garden. Around 40 types of vegetables. NO DIG since 2020.
6x beds so can manage crop rotation, it was started 2 years ago and and is mulched every year with homemade compost and/or horse manure (if avaliable).
I have started a real no dig vegetable garden in the fall of 2020 and the winter results are very good. In summer we have too much sun and heat and drought and I am searching for solutions (will start with a shade cover next spring) and some form of irrigation.The vegetable garden is in the olive grove, in very hard clay soil.
The picture is of the second year. I have put olive oil pits on the paths because in Italy wood chips are used for heating and impossible to get in smaller quantities. The olive pits are sold in a big bag. I have added grass cuttings all around the vegetable garden to slowly make it a bit more fertile and also to have some cover in the summer.
My name is Sonia, I am a No Dig gardener together with my partner Loïs. We started gardening to grow our own vegetables in 2015, but only after I discovered Charles, around 2018, did our garden grow into a success. I watched all his youtube videos all winter long, then ordered some of his books and a year or two later, did the online course. We stopped all digging, I started to make a yearly planning and to raise our plants in modules. We created a hotbed in our greenhouse early February to start the growing season, when outside, there is still 30cm of snow - sometimes as late as mid April. We live in Switzerland, 850m above sea level in a mountain village. Our seasons are short - we have hot summers with very little wind, but very very cold winters with no sun until end of February. It can snow until mid May and in April we always, always have a few deep snow days. Yet, I plant my first plantings on a snow free day in March and they always survive the late snow. I grow 2-3 seasons in one vegetable bed and as of end of October 2023, I am still harvesting tomatoes in the greenhouse. No dig really has made a huge change for us!
With no dig, all our environmental challenges just turn into opportunities to explore and learn and garden with nature. Since three years, we are fully sustainable with all our vegetable needs all year round! (Yes including the long 6 months of winter, November to End of May…).
Aix en Provence, France
A beautiful potager that I and my worms have built up over 5 years using 100% no dig and using my own home made compost once a year all inspired by Charles.
Visitors welcome. No bed is ever empty as I grow all year round.
Adela Martínez – Huertos in the Sky
I am the founder of Huertos in the Sky, a project with the aim of transforming Barcelona's rooftops into economically, socially and environmentally sustainable urban gardens.
I am a superfan of Charles's and have been following his advice for a long time now – I try to create awareness of no dig in the workshops I do.
Woodville, Stour Provost
Large square plot in a field adjoining the house. Started 6 years ago and has been extended each year. Compost from Blandford Concrete, about 40 tons over 6 years! Also added a medium greenhouse and a large polythene. Very productive so we supply most of our needs for a large part of the year.
Sloping plot at the back of the garden with three small greenhouses. Overhanging sycamore trees in Cornish hedge down the north-east boundary. Very well drained acidic soil that has needed lots of organic matter adding via no dig. Lots of worms now in what was a desert when we moved in four years ago, but now have a very active mole destroying many plants.
All of the veg area was created via no dig, as was the flower/plant area, apart from moving an old and large compost heap with soil that had been there for years from the previous owners. It was hand-dug out and used to terrace a sloping part of the garden, straight on top of grass and cardboard.
We took over our allotment in late 2009, by February 2010 the main bed approximately 4m x 10m had been dug over leaving huge clods of soil. Fast forward about five years I read an article of No Dig written by Charles Dowding in a newspaper and concluded, ‘that will never work’!
However, being keen to expand my knowledge of allotment growing, the more I researched the more no dig and Charles' name appeared. Cautiously, I began to explore this further and decided there was no alternative but to sign up for one of Charles’ courses. When I arrived at Homeacres any apprehensions I had of no dig were immediately dispelled. My thoughts were, ‘this man knows what he’s talking about’.
Our photo shows the same bed from different angles.
1. February 2010.
2. January 2020.
3. March 2021. Reverse angle of 1 & 2.
4. October 2021. Similar angle of 3, also shows our adjoining plot, also no dig.
Since starting no dig, our home made compost production has expanded eliminating the need for any chemical fertilizers which in itself has reduced costs.
New Denham Allotments, Bucks UK
185sqm jungle transformed into a highly fertile no-dig allotment, with asparagus and three fruit trees added in the past 12 months. Around 80sqm used for vegetable growing, 25sqm used for a vine, fruit, berries and currants; 10sqm used for composting, growing green manure and nitrogen fixers; 15sqm for growing perennial pollinators and other flowers; and 55sqm used for paths, a hazel tree.
In year four of no dig after inheriting a jungle, I have successfully grown 30 different fruit and vegetables, the highlight this summer being 96lb of Crown Prince squash from four plants covering 6sqm.
Llanmaes Vale of Glamorgan South Wales
Our market garden is in Siginstone Lane in Llanmaes
Waspik, The Netherlands
I manage an intensive 100m2 no dig garden where I grow veg throughout the year. I am growing my vegetables since 2010 and started No Dig in 2020, which skyrocketed the pleasure of gardening as well as the amount of produce.
My garden is a "borrowed" plot of 35sqm wedged in between buildings and other people's back gardens. I took on the no dig approach three years ago and saw my harvests double, and the workload more than halved. I also experience fewer pests. On my 35sqm I harvest around 200kg of food year round!
Poplar Branch, North Carolina
One acre yard about 1/4 of it in garden. I started changing it to garden 3 years ago with it growing larger each year. Some of the ground was so sandy that weeds would not grow, just sand and it is now garden. I believe the sand was trucked in long before I moved here.
I am just really happy to have a great garden that I can manage by myself, I am a 72 and work full time, so it can be done! It produces way more than I can eat which finds it way to people who need it. So happy with it.
Thanks Charles for the videos and expert information!
I have a mixed vegetable, fruit and flower allotment with three rainwater butts attached to my shed. Two compost bays completely reorganised since going on Charles’s course. We are in a valley next to the river Thames on sandy soil. Since taking over the allotment two years ago I have practiced no dig and added compost every year and it is making a huge difference. Since Charles’s course I’m now looking forward to being more effective with my sowing, planting and harvests. I feel revitalised and excited when working in the allotment and I even get excited about making compost, who knew that was possible!
Mamaroneck, New York
Said goodbye to a typical American front lawn and hello to a fun, thriving space!
Food to share, kids who compost, butterflies and bunnies. It’s all good! And WAY easier with No Dig of course.
I started with a small bed and soon expanded. I work for Charles as his PA so I am very lucky to have the expert on hand when I am unsure. I have had lots of success and grown some lovely veg using no dig.
I am Phil Brown, headteacher at Bottesford Junior School. I would like to share with you a little bit about our school and how we have created our outdoor learning environment in recent years, as well as sharing our exciting plans for the future.
We are a medium-sized primary/junior school with 265 pupils on roll. We are situated in Bottesford which is a suburb of Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire.
The benefits of outdoor learning have been central to our school for quite some time now.
We are an accredited ForestSchool. This involves the children working outside in the natural environment.They learn lots of new skills such as bushcraft (lighting fires, outdoor cookery, etc) as well as developing a wide range of life skills such as independence, perseverance and teamwork.
We also have a school garden that we developed from 2016 onwards.
Working with a local consultant, we were able to create the Thomson Garden – a mixture of vegetable gardening, soft and hard fruits, and willow structures, and a central cherry tree and seating area as a tribute to David Thomson, our Chair of Governors, who sadly passed away in 2017.
In recent years, I became interested in the no dig approach and the work of Charles Dowding.
At the start of the 2023 growing season, we made the decision to convert the garden to a No Dig system, with a completely new approach.
We have put in place some basic principles and strategies that we hope will overcome the traditional obstacles that often beset school gardens. We now have a Gardening Club (around 10 children) who spend one lunchtime each week on the plot, as well as staff volunteers who help out.
Each time we have a Forest School day – which is most weeks, since each class has one day per term – each year group spends at least an hour in the school garden. All of the activities are based around what needs to be done – whether that be sowing seeds or watering up.
In early spring, we redesigned the vegetable beds and used woodchip to create paths – not quite Homeacres, but it’s moving in the right direction!
We are now aiming to create our own compost! We currently have two Hotbin composters and three Dalek-style bins. In May 2023, we held our first Open Garden when parents and carers were given guided tours of the plot, and we sold seedlings and flowers. We raised enough funds to buy a second Hotbin.
We collect waste from the school kitchen and our Gardening Club are teaching the children, through our assemblies, how their food waste is being recycled into compost. In the long term, we hope to move towards self-sufficiency in the creation of compost, but for now it is excellent for the children to understand the process of creating our own resources as well as allowing them to have first-hand experience of how waste breaks down and that compost doesn’t just suddenly appear in bags in the garden centre!
The children are also beginning to understand the role that worms play in breaking down the waste which many of them find fascinating.
Children are now learning the basic skills of vegetable gardening following the principles of multi-sowing, succession planting, interplanting etc. Without really thinking about it, we have found so many examples of overlap with other areas of the school curriculum, such as ratio and proportion when looking at the best mix of ingredients to get the Hotbin to heat up, or the concept of fair testing if we are wanting to investigate the best way to encourage plant growth.
Each time we sow seeds, we sow a few extra, and our plan is to sell seedlings and young plants to our families and friends which, as well as encouraging gardening within our wider community, also teaches the children about economics and enterprise.
One thing that is central to our school garden, however, is that the curriculum fits around the garden and not vice-versa. We are working hard to create a successful garden through which we can exploit any curricular links. We are aiming to create an ‘all-year-round’ garden and have thought of some strategies to make this happen whilst still fitting in with school life, such as a rota of people coming to water the crops and to harvest whilst school is closed, especially during the summer break.
If you are interested in keeping up with how the garden is developing, please do visit our school website, which has a page dedicated to our green-fingered activities.
Many thanks for taking the time to read our journey so far … we hope you have enjoyed it!
North West Montana
We tried your method, and it was a success! I’m attaching some pictures showing different states of the garden. The first picture is shortly after we created the new raised beds in April by first putting down cardboard and paper grocery bags and then adding a layer of compost. The later pictures are from July – September. This was a challenging area to plant because it only gets full sun for a few hours a day. Add to that our short growing season and I think it was quite successful! We have to have tall fences to deter the deer and bears (black and grizzly bears).
I have been a farmer and rancher all my life and we grow the majority of our own food. We just finished building a greenhouse. I have been calling it a high tunnel but it is more accurately a walipini, it is dug into the earth with the north wall built of boulders that hold thermal mass. We have six growing beds 100 ft long and 3 ft wide, plus more growing space in pots and in the stone walls, a total of 2000 sq ft. The thermal mass is working! we have not had a frost inside yet and our coldest nights have been down to 5 degrees fahrenheit. Our advantage is a climate where we get a lot of winter sun that heats the stone through the greenhouse plastic and keeps things warm at night. The round wood door you see in the picture is 10 ft tall and 4 ft wide. I built everything you see here. I did the excavation, stone work, steel work, and I installed the steel frame and plastic with friends and family. In another year I will be releasing a film about building it and growing food for the first year.
I love unusual vegetable varieties and I have never seen pointed cabbages until Charles showed them in the videos. (Well… I have grown Early Jersey Wakefield but it is not like yours!!!) I was inspired and tried to purchase seed. I searched for days to find Fielderkrout and there is only one supplier I could find in North America. I ordered it!
I have done no till farming for a long time but you have taught me many details that have really helped me understand the efficiency and productivity of small garden spaces. My plan was to have a no till system in the new walipini all along and to experiment until I figured out the best ways… but now that I discovered you I am doing No Dig in my new walipini because you have already figured it all out! Thanks again!
*Update from William received October 2022
The Walipini greenhouse is going great and I love no dig. I have a large vermicomposting bin that is making fantastic compost. It is 12 ft long, 4 ft wide and is a flow through system that I cut off at the bottom and the finished compost falls to the ground. I built it myself with recycled materials so the cost was less than $10.00 for some screws to fasten it together. A commercial unit that does the same thing costs $10,000. So I feel pretty good about it!
My strawberries are doing exceptionally well with the best of size and flavor. The Scarlet runner beans attracted many hummingbirds which is an absolute delight, they are such an amazing creature.
I graduated from Elaine Ingham’s Soil Food Web School where she trained me to analyse soil and compost with a microscope. It is fantastic to see how the no dig gardens are healthy and have a functioning soil.
One new detail I have been incorporating into my gardens and greenhouse is planting many species together to maintain a minimum of four plant families with the hope of increasing microbial activity and therefore turning on secondary metabolites within the plants. The hope is two fold: 1- to maximize a healthy ecosystem without losses of food crops to pests and disease. 2- To grow the healthiest food possible.
I am saving my own seed for most of the plants I grow and I am developing Landrace varieties in order to adapt them to our harsh growing conditions here in the Great Basin Desert. Our place is at 5,836 feet above sea level and the mountains behind the greenhouse soar up to 10,873 elevation. This spring our last frost was June 15, and most years the first killing fall frost is the last week of August. We usually figure on an 80 day frost free growing season in our outdoor farming. The Landrace breeding project is vital to creating vegetables that can withstand these conditions that are common throughout the high desert mountain valleys in the western United States. We have had success developing cantaloupe, dry beans, miniature watermelon, and sweet corn with short maturity times. None of these have stabilized genetically yet to give consistent and reliable characteristics so it will be a few years at least before we can release a new variety. I have had a watermelon plant show some frost resistance which is unheard of in the botany world so this is truly fascinating and thrilling work I am involved in.
I recommend no dig to people who want the best flavoured food, the most nutrient dense food, and the least amount of work to grow such food.
If anybody wishes to contact me my info is found on my website www.georgicrevolution.com
We purchased this home in 2010 from a man who was 203 years old. The house had sat empty and uncared for for ten years, so the entire property was overgrown with brush and vines so one could not even see the house. Ten years later we are just starting to see our dream take shape.
I am so grateful to have discovered this technique of no dig gardening. I might have gone the rest of my life and not stumbled upon it. Like many other people, I used to be overwhelmed with weeds by mid-summer. Now I feel like I have found a gardening method that is physically easy enough for me to continue with as I grow older.
Every year I would till my garden. I’m almost 77 years old. I’m in very good shape for my age, but it’s getting more difficult to till. The ground is hard as a brick. I was looking on the internet and accidentally came across Charles’ youtube channel. I looked at it and evaluated it in light of what I had been doing (tilling) for many years. I thought I might be able to do this, so last year I made my initial beds using both mushroom and green compost that I purchased. While doing that I made two compost bins so I could start my own compost (which I now been giving away!!!).
Last years garden produced about 20 kg of half-runner beans, 60 kg of sweet potatoes (from 8 plants), some broccoli, radishes, spinach, and tomatoes. It was not impressive because I don’t think I made the beds deep enough (about 3cm). Weeding is a breeze!!!!
However, our potatoes did not do well. This year the potatoes are growing very well. We will probably harvest in June. We’ve never been able to grow carrots but this year they are doing very well.
I also bought Charles’ book and it was very beneficial. Currently, we are trying to grow Sweet potato slips and then plant them. Stand-by for more information on that (LOL). We also found a hoe like Charles uses and it is wonderful. I’m thinking about expanding next year to add another 50% to the garden area.
Brian and Marla
Sequim on the north Olympic Peninsula, USA
After living and working in Seattle most of our lives we retired and moved out to the small town of Sequim on the north Olympic Peninsula five years ago. Zone 8b—just like Homeacres. We were fortunate to find a home with a couple acres and so on a large patch of lawn we started a vegetable garden. We live near Paul Gautschi who originally taught us about No-Dig. We bought a 1700-foot roll of newsprint for $35 on Amazon and proceeded to put down overlapping layers of it on the grass and covered it with a sandy topsoil mix over an area of about 1000 square feet. On that we have spread organic compost for the last five years and our soil is beautifully soft and easy to work.
Over the last few years we have learned a great deal from watching Charles’ videos. We would say that probably the biggest takeaway has been to do less, rather than more work! And his little tips that we remember as we go about tending the garden often come to mind. The results have been far, far more produce than we can consume and we give a lot away to family, friends and the local food bank.
I just want to say a very big thankyou for all your you tube videos which I have watched. As a consequence I used some of my spare land which was very stony to put in a no dig gardening block using compost from my 2 horses. Amazingly I haven’t bought any vegetables for 6 months!!! I’m 59 and the cost of food in New Zealand has become a serious problem with most people struggling to put nutritious food on the table. I did all of this at very little cost using free cardboard, old planks of wood and free tyres and luckily for me free compost.
I am so grateful!! Suzanne
Metsje and Gerrit
Just five months earlier this area was grass and weeds. Metsje and Gerrit have created a beautiful no dig garden.
Hey, In recent years I have been growing vegetables for my well being, and trees for my livelihood(and well being). My main dilemma in growing the vegetables was to turn over the soil, I understood that its encourages the weeds to pop up more and more. Also when I was turning over the soil and harming all these nice earthworms, and microorganisms it didn’t feel right. I was only weakening what I want to cultivate and that is of course the soil. Weeding was also a big part of the job. I heard a lot about the method that it is possible not to turn over the soil, but I really didn’t understand how it actually works in growing vegetables.
I came across by chance to the wonderful videos of dear Charles and it helped me a lot to apply this life changing method of no dig in a completely different climate zone from England. In the Galilee.I must point out that I am not alone in this garden and I do this with my buddy Shir mostly, plus other friends who come several times a year. Most of the work, is picking, adding compost to the beds and wood chips for the paths. I will also note that I really like to sow a lot of the vegetables directly in the soil, in hot summers like in the Galilee, it is important that the vegetables will deepen roots and be strong as possible, with the no dig method it is very easy to sow directly in the beds, because what germinates is mainly what you sow and not weeds, and it is very easy to identify and track what you have sown. In addition there is no problem to integrate a drip irrigation system, if its necessary in dry areas zones.
From year to year like wine it seems that the soil life are only getting better and growing with the soil becomes easier and more fun. Less struggle and more consideration for the soil, a winning recipe!
All the best, Ron
Two years ago I moved to a small house that had a piece of land that I could grow in. I found Charles online and since then we grow lots of things.
I grow mostly for me and my wife but we also give what we grow to friends and family.
I have no dig beds and on top of the compost I add a thick layer of mulch to protect it from the strong sun we have here in the summer.
Here are some photos of my garden, we are in between seasons so its not that impressive yet!
I did the bed myself, with little help from my 10-year-old son and my wife, took us around 6 to 8 hours.
Bought bare essential tools based on your videos (like wheelbarrow(2), spade/shovel(2), digging fork(2) (couldn’t get the compost fork though here), rake(2)) and lots of compost, exhausting budget for this month, hence postponed enrolling to your course as of now 🙁
Petr took online courses one and two and is creating a garden on one acre of land in the countryside with wife and six children, surrounded by an “edible jungle” full of fruit trees and bushes . Close to Bavaria.
A beautiful no dig roof top garden. I am afraid there was quite a bit of lugging of material via the lift.
Many years ago my father tried to make a garden without no dig and he told me it was super difficult, time consuming and money consuming. So I was unmotivated.
Then I knew your no dig method and tried it and it is super easy! My father was amazed. Now for the most part of the year we made our own salads. We don’t need to buy lettuce anymore!
We regularly get back-to-back 40C days in summer and the extreme heat is really hard on our plants/crops/yield.
We need to water at least twice a day but thankfully we have a water tank. When we started using Charles’ no dig method though and followed his advice to have coarse/large woodchips in the compost to begin with our beds now retain a huge amount of moisture even on extreme-heat days.
The good side is that we don’t get many snails, slugs, mould, mildew, as moisture/dankness isn’t a real issue.
Home grown compost: This has been THE game changer and one of the biggest takeaways from Charles’ approach. I have two compost bays setup – although mine are not half as good looking as Charles’ set up though! I’ve put my bays together out of old shipping pallets (heat treated (HT) ones – another GREAT tip from Charles – thank you!). I have one bay for resting compost and one for active compost. I put EVERYTHING into the active bay from our garden AND from our neighbours’ green waste bins.
Rachael and Damian
Bywong NSW Australia
Our garden is on the outskirts of Canberra in Ngunnawal country, and we love to grow tasty food with positive outcomes for people, the local environment and the planet.
My husband builds everything we need and makes the compost and I do the growing.
After many years of planning and saving we moved to this property in 2009. We wanted to live more sustainably and closer to nature, and teaching our kids about growing food was part of that.After many years of working with more mainstream organic techniques, we were becoming disheartened and starting to think it wasn't something we could manage - until around 2019 when I came across Charles’s YouTube channel - and was hooked.
We now not only get most of our own food from the garden but also feed a small group of local families (through vegetable boxes) and contribute to a local farm cooperative.
I've done lots of the No Dig online courses and would love to one day do one in person. I appreciate not only how easy and successful the techniques are, but also Charles’s gentle way of communicating and teaching.
We are now studying the ecology of the soil food web, and it all makes perfect sense with No dig.
If you are interested in our garden our Instagram handle is @home.soil.
Near Alresford, Hants
Lynn has been a no digger for 10 years and noticed that the method improved her lower back problems.
Chris Wise is championing no dig all the way out in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Roots Allotments latest site in Bath. Another great champion of No Did!
Scott and Mandy
Scandy Allotment Central Scotland near Falkirk
Scott and Mandy are doing a fantastic job with their No Dig allotment in Scotland.
The pioneer of No Dig, Charles lives at his farm in Homeacres Somerset.
Tuckers Meadow is another Roots Allotment site championing No Dig principles.
We received so many emails with stories of no dig gardening and delicious-looking dishes. Thank you for sending them in – we’ll create a separate gallery page to showcase your amazing gardens and food. There are a few examples below.