The ‘No Dig’ Way to Manage your Garden!
Posted:2 October 2016
Back on the 24th September, we were very happy to welcome no-dig gardening expert Charles Dowding to The Garden House to give us a talk on a different way of managing our gardens.
Garden House friend Lyndsey and owner of What You Sow shop and blog wrote up her thoughts on his inspiring visit:
“On Friday, a group of us attended a sell-out talk at the Garden House by Charles Dowding of no-dig gardening fame. I’m going to make a bold statement and say it is the best talk I’ve ever been to at The Garden House, and that really is saying something because I have been to a lot of amazing talks there. His passion and enthusiasm for his subject was abundantly clear and he told us so much good stuff that I managed to fill 3 pages of my notepad with hints and tips on how to grow things better.
Charles with Deborah Kalinke and Bridge Saunders of the Garden House
He offered advice on how to keep slugs at bay (remove decaying leaves from the bottom of your veg plants as they attract them), how to sow cleverly for the best crop yields and conversely when not to sow seeds to avoid disappointing yields (find his sowing timetable on his website). He talked a lot about composting and mulching – and using compost as a mulch which blew everyone’s minds a little bit. He also busted a few common gardening myths for us – that nutrients in compost are washed away by rain for example is rubbish, and that it would take some pretty hefty manure to “burn” seeds much manure is totally fine to sow into directly.
He was full of praise for worms (yay, my favourites!), heaping them with praise and telling us how they are much more effective at turning over soil than we humans are.
Charles talking no dig with participants
Copper tools are something else that he is a big fan of and it was great to hear about how he uses them. He recommended them highly, citing their longevity, their thin blades which slice through the soil causing minimal disturbance to the soil, the fact that they don’t rust and that they can really help improve the health of the soil. His particular favourite is the hydra oscillating hoe which enables the gardener to hoe the weeds before you even see them and can remove hundreds in just a few minutes. He even went so far as to say that anyone who has an allotment should get one.
Charles was ace, listening carefully as we all asked him our gardening questions, and giving us shed loads of advice, really delighted to be sharing what he has learned himself over the years. There was so much other stuff he told us that I don’t have time to write about here – guidance on how to keep picked salad fresher for longer, many more tips on mulching and composting, his top seed varieties to sow and more. As we walked around the Garden House garden he gave Bridge (Bridge Saunders, partner in the Garden House) all sorts of advice on things she could do, particularly in the veg patch. He also brought along some of the vegetables that he has been growing on his own garden at Homeacres in Somerset, including some delicious bitter leaves, endive and chicory and a stunningly coloured squash named Kuri.
All-in-all it was a completely fantastic talk opening our eyes to new approaches to gardening and filling us with enthusiasm for trying them out. I hope he comes back next year!”
Charles chatting with Bridge in the garden