No Dig Organic Home & Garden
by Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty
Charles Dowding is slowly changing the orthodoxy around growing edible crops. His adoption and promotion of the no-dig method is steadily gaining a devoted following because it is simple, logical and it provides good results with minimal work. For the uninitiated: no dig involves disturbing the soil as little as possible, and improving it by laying on thick mulches of organic matter, which are worked into the soil over time by the actions of earthworms. The gardener plants directly into the mulch, and never digs the soil. With a few tweaks it is a method for conquering new ground, killing off weeds, and improving existing beds. Dowding’s new book with Stephanie Hafferty explains the theory and method in detail and with characteristic thoroughness.
But no dig is just the starting point of this book and it goes on to cover every possible aspect of growing, cooking and preserving, combining all of Dowding and Hafferty’s knowledge, ideas and recipes. There are tables for the best sowing times, required soil temperatures and spacings, plus protection, pests and diseases are covered in detail.
Then there are recipes for using your produce to create DIY potions for the garden – sprays, fertilisers and so on – and for the home – soaps, cleaning solutions and laundry powder – as well as plenty of mouth-watering, vegetable-based recipes.
All of these extras combine to make this more of a manual for self sufficiency and an alternative lifestyle than a straight gardening book, and it is all the more useful and thought provoking for it. It is a brilliant place for a beginner to start and will also give old timers pause to consider doing things in this alternative way.
Permanent Publications, £19.95