NO DIG ABUNDANCE, a weedy field becomes garden in 9 months, using mulches only

NO DIG ABUNDANCE, a weedy field becomes garden in 9 months, using mulches only

homemakers garden is new created just in the last nine months on a clay soil with a fertile six-inch loam on top I’m Charles doubting I’ve been growing vegetables for 30 years always with a no dig approach organic growing and I’m showing you in the short film how I do it and how I’ve turned this weedy plot of ground about 1/5 of an acre here into a wonderful abundant garden and the beds here are all made very simply using compost or old manure on top of the weeds and grass that are growing and here is how with a no dig approach I just love the speedy abundance of growth and my main output here for selling is salad leaves because they are so much in demand I’m kneeling beside a bed which I planted in April and a harvested let it all through May June and July and already now it’s growing a second crop which I planted in August of musters and endings and the yields from these beds just taking off out of leaves like this of this mustard is phenomenal here I’m in the middle of the garden and I’m showing you beds which have no wooden sides and the beauty of having no wooden sides is you save money and you have less pests because in the British climates at least for where I am it’s quite damp and slugs is a major problem for us eating leaves so I find wooden sides give home to slugs and then this less come out in the police no wooden sides less slugs only eight months ago these beds everywhere here was weeds and grass a lot of perennial weeds even and now it’s all beautifully clean from the marching process so why the no dig approach there are just benefits galore it’s less work starting out you don’t have to dig or cultivate the soil you get more harvests and you have less weeds and to find out more about it myself I’ve created a dig noting experiment here where I’ve made one bed which I’ve dug and incorporated the manure and one bed which is not being dug at all and I’ve simply put the manure compost on top of undisturbed saw and I grow exactly the same vegetables and compare the harvests and you can see both beds are abundant the no deep bed is actually slightly more abundant this year I’ve harvested 47 kilos from the no dig bed 43 kilos from the dug bed for less work so when you find enough compost to grow wonderful vegetables if you have any waste at all at home organic waste matter you can turn it into your own compost Here I am doing a very simple composting in small heaps and this is compost that I’ve made since Christmas so this is only eight months old I’ve turned it once you don’t have to turn if you turn you get lovely compost and this is good already for growing also you can buy in manure if you can find all you might get given it even this is cow manure from a local farm cows which have been bedded on straw it’s 18 months old that’s a good age anything from a year old or older is good to use I have a neighbor up the road who actually gives me her horse manure because she has so much of it for her it’s a waste product for a lot of people it is so don’t be afraid to ask around people might give it to you and you can also often buy compost not too expensive from tips where they’re processing domestic waste into lovely compost so you have many options of places to go and find composting it’s the most worthwhile investment you can make in your garden to grow wonderful produce I’ve been working with compost all my life 30 years and yet there’s always more to learn and to find out more about the inherent qualities of the compost I have available at the moment I set up a small trial growing lettuce and it’s the same lettuce plants planted at the same time the only difference is the compost they are growing in and the first one here is growing in green waste compost made from local domestic waste the second one is growing in Lyon compost so it’s about 8 months old and the third one is growing in 18 month old car mania and the growth has been remarkably different actually since they were planted in these pots 6 weeks ago and I’ve already made two harvests from these lettuce and so far the commoner is slightly ahead in terms of yield the homemade compost is catching up there and looking the strongest plant now the green waste compost is not quite so strong so maybe you don’t have enough compost to smother the grass and weeds with compost on its own there are other ways of starting a no dig plot and using the light excluding mulch is a very good method such as cardboard black polythene or here for example I’m using carpet it’s a piece of old carpet that a friend who is moving house said she didn’t want anymore and so she just gave it to me a lot of these resources are out there for free and this is a nice old woollen carpet which is good because then the chemicals don’t leach into the ground and I’ve laid it on the grass after putting down some Carmenere and it’s now full of worms and now I’m going to roll it back and Lance some spring onions so here I am where I spread some karma Nia straight on the grass no carpet or anything else but I did then cover it with carpet for a couple of months to help kill the grass and weeds because I’ve only used about two or three inches of manure here firstly I’m dipping holes so I’m making little holes with my wooden dipper straight into the manure and then I’m planting these are spring onions which I sowed in this module tray and are just popping out the each plug popping it in the ground and these spring onions grow very well in clumps I’m not thinning them out I’m flanking them as a climb something I’m often asked is can you sow carrots parsnips into manure compost and yes you can there’s a lot of Mythology about this but the simple answer is you can sow carrots parsnips anything any vegetables into compost manure on top of soil as long as it’s about a year old compost Erminia it’s fine and they love to grow in it and here are some carrots which are so four months ago into this bed into a recently made bed where I just spread manure on top of grass and I going to pull this one out and you can see that the root has gone down nicely it’s a lovely clean root you can see how clean they often come out of compost ammonia and you can also grow for example potatoes here I have some which I harvested in July we’re now September so they’re already three months old they’re looking good these grew in manure the tubers actually developed in the manure and what I did was to put the seed potato just tucked into the surface level saw where there was pasture grass still growing then covered that with in this case year old cow manure and I also put a sheet of polythene black polythene on top to help keep the light out so the tubers the leaves grew through the polythene the tube is developed in them and you’re under the polythene and to harvest harvesting is so easy with no deep potatoes you just pull them out you don’t need a spade or fork or anything because they’re quite surface growing although the roots of the plant have gone into the undocks or below and they can pull the moisture out of that and likewise other vegetables some seeds are so direct but a lot of them actually I raise plants to plant out into the calm Hostel manure of the beds I make nd plant there for example here’s a Charvel plant other root vegetables fennel so that’s bulb fennel I’ve grown as a plug plant to plant AK and Swiss chard here’s another one very pretty plant and you can see that’s really quite a big plant when you have plants of this size you you’re almost halfway there really so you can do a lot of your growing in a controlled space like a greenhouse and then you have very easy growing after that the no dig approach works really well with Polly tunnels here I’m standing in a Polly tunnel which has only been here for eight months we put the hoops in the ground in January and then straight away I mulch the grass that it was assembled on top of with compost manure I used some cardboard too and smothered all the weeds very futile growing through I’ve been trailing some out that have but basically the soil is now lovely and clean and I had a wonderful crop of tomatoes all different varieties growing here the ones in front are really one of my favorites that sungl which is an orange cherry of the most magnificent flavor I warmly recommend you to it because not only is it a great tomato it comes early in Britain at least where we have these rather short summers an early start is great for tomatoes and this angle we’re opening in the middle of June this year from a late April planting and now I’m wanting to encourage them to ripen as fast as possible it’s late September there’s probably less than a month until the first frost so they need to ripen fast the remaining fruit I’ve pinched out the tops and I’m helping that last bit of ripening by leaving the top leaves on because you want a few leaves to continue photosynthesizing bring energy and sweetness and flavor into the remaining fruit and also I’ve reduced my watering that’s another good tip for helping to encourage that last ripening that slows the plant down in terms of new growth and makes it switch a bit of its metabolism into ripening the existing fruit and then when these Tomatoes finish all I’m going to do very simple approach is pull them out put them on the compost heap and plant winter salad which I’m currently growing in module tracer this polytunnel will be full of winter salad and one last point about the tomatoes is that I have not fed them at all so they are growing in the goodness provided by the original March of compost and manure you do not need to feed Tomatoes if you give them a good mulch in the first place preferably on top I think the no dig is really good for that the goodness is where the roots like to find them near the surface and look how they grow I hope you’ve enjoyed this taster this little experience of what I’m doing here and the wonderful abundance you can have from gardening in this method and you can find out more on my website which is so far about how to create and then maintain and look after and produce wonderful plants to eat in an undergrad –n you

100 thoughts on “NO DIG ABUNDANCE, a weedy field becomes garden in 9 months, using mulches only

  1. Lovely. I used to do John Jevons method many decades ago. I now have access to land again and feel fortunate to have bumped into your YouTube vids. I'll be checking out your website. I have also sub'd. I live in the mountains of Virginia. It appears pretty similar to Somerset. Thanks for sharing your experience. I've been sharing your vids with family and friends.

  2. I don't understand why there's so many dislikes on this gentlemans videos.. his garden is absolutely beautiful. .he knows what his doing.. I'm amazed. . Good job.. keep up the good work..

  3. I used the carpet idea…works great ! Then I moved the carpet over and made the garden spot bigger ..

  4. I love your videos even though I live in Texas USA. I found the music too loud, unnecessary and a little distracting. I'd rather listen to what you have to say. Just one person's opinion. Carry-on!

  5. Hello Mr. Charles, Thank you for your help, support and encouragement. IF I would had seen your video before, my dear husband and I could have saved so much energy, time, and monies. We removed sod, which removed all the beautiful workers, the earthworm. I believe many were removed. Well, I saw them inside the sod. We struggled with muddy days of rain, while removing the sod with a bobcat machine. Yes, we did it thinking it would be easy, not so Mr. Charles. My garden in part has suffer due to the bushel of rain in north USA. This is August 2018, and our garden keeps drowning in part since we dug out sod.
    Please, keep educating us. Please keep explaining to us what’s myth and what’s practical. Help us also to understand how to harvest, for example corn. I had sweet corn with 7 to 14 days of germination of days, and harvesting can be anywhere from 5 to 10 days. My corn , hard to say, but true is chewy, overly mature , so sad:(. But, I’m not giving up. I’m looking forward to next years farming, with my Creators blessings, my health willing and oh yes, my dear Husband Mike 😉

  6. thank you Charles for you insights on the "no dig garden"; I will try to do better..i do not have ready access to manure around here but we do have lots of seaweed so that's what I use to smother weeds in my flower beds. most plants love it, some Do not;'s "the working man's mulch" but I will be on the lookout for free carpets, enjoyed your video,thanks!

  7. Please forgive a silly question, but when does it become safe to handle manure? It seems to me that it starts out being full of dangerous organisms. When does the transformation become complete?

  8. This is lovely. Could you possibly be more specific when you're telling us "I used manure to smother the grass" after building the tunnel house? How much manure? How deep? How long from the time you put the manure in to the time you planted? Did you cover the manure with something?

  9. For some reason, I thought you had said in one of your videos to smother the weeds with cardboard underneath the manure/mulch. But now that I’m looking into it again, it sounds like that would not be the best idea? We were planning to cover the ground with about 6” of rotted horse manure this fall and leave it over the winter. Is there a use for cardboard in this situation, perhaps on top of the manure during the winter? Or do you think it would be unnecessary?

  10. Mike Ebler
    1 second ago
    I was wondering how you built the leanto you are standing next to as I am wanting to make something similar to it. is there any info on your site how you built and or measurements ?. You have given me a lot of knowledge from your videos and I am going to try the no till gardening this coming year. Thank you very much.

  11. Thanks for ur vids. Does wood attract slugs even when buried, as within Hugelkultur beds? Plus then it would be best to use rocks for stepping stones thru large beds, particularly than to use wood rounds? Too bad cuz the flat rocks get lost in the foliage as densifies later in the season.

  12. Charles, is there a good perennial, indeterminate variety/cultivar of full size tomatoes you can recommend for outdoor growing in the UK?

  13. I have a question for you. I am undecided as what to do. Just today I finally got a load of half composted manure.. I noticed it had lots and lots of pill bugs in it. My question is "Do I put this in my garden or not? I am afraid I will be introducing these bugs into my garden and they will eat my vegetables.I am trying to get my garden ready for next year before it gets too cold to work it. I value your opinion. Thanks greatly.

  14. Hi charles, I tried to read all the feedback comments but gave up after 5 minutes there's million of them lol, hey that was a wonderful video, well done you, im not to far from your neck of the woods, plymouth devon. keep up the great work, truly an inspiration to all of us.

  15. Inspiring – I am about to take possession of an old vegetable garden in Portugal (central) where there are dry summers. I'm hoping to uncover plenty of compost on the site – would no dig/compost mulch work in such a dry environment?

  16. Hi Charles,

    I really enjoy your no dig video's. I recently found the first book on gardening
    that my great Aunt bought me for my 14Th birthday. It was called the complete
    gardener, and the auther was a chap called W E Shewel-Cooper who died in 1982.

    I researched him on the internet and it stated that he was the pioneer of no dig
    gardening. Are you following in his footsteps? I'm trying on my allotment to go
    over to no dig, but I'm always being battered by weeds every season. Unlike
    you seem to be. Am I doing something wrong? I would be greatfull for your
    thoughts on this as I only tried the no dig method for the first time this season.

    Hapy gardening,





  18. I loved the way you treat the plants… I want to do forming in future… I am going to buy land for agriculture.. bless me to buy land….

  19. Wow after watching your videos most of the morning you answered my next question and that was HOW CAN I START A GARDEN WITHOUT A SURPLUS OF MULCH! The carpet idea is genius and I have already invested in old boxes that work wonderfully as I found out a few years back when I started a straw bale garden and harvested two of the sweet potatoes in fall weighing in at almost five pounds INCREDIBLE…FROM ONE GARDENER TO ANOTHER THANK YOU SO MUCH,

  20. Good to see the weedy field transformed in fertile garden.Mulching the ground is certainly the best way to take care of many problems.
    Thanks for sharing your video.

  21. Lots of tomatoes. Here in the States lots of us love fried green tomatoes. Have you ever had some. It would be how I would use up a lot of the ones not ripe and also many of them before they got ripe.

  22. You are truly inspiring. I’m miserably waiting in frozen pa January and salivating about my dream garden in summer. Thanks for your wonderful video😊🍀🌿🌱☘️

  23. The green waist compost leaves look better. Seems to be some browning. Wondering if it’s caused by toxic gas release or some chemical process in the leaching? Just a thought maybe it is better to compost longer. I don’t know

  24. Agree about raised beds, lot of work and rot after 4-5 years. Look nice if that’s important to you and maybe improve drainage for such a short period but then wick the water away in summer, dry the soil and have you slaving with watering cans. Why did you post a video about them later??, stick to your guns and follow ruthless reduction of work principals to help those of us who work full time. Any latest research on club root which is endemic on our allotment ???

  25. I’m sooooooooooo happy to find your channel. Just wanted to make a living here and gardening makes me happy from the inside and could help me to escape from this sick world sometimes 🏡

  26. I'm really glad that the newer videos don't have this constant music overlapping with speech. Not being entirely neurotypical, I find this setup unbearable. Some videos are so great (like this one) that I still watch them, with the sound muted and CC turned on. But it is so much nicer when I don't have to do it that way.

  27. I'm really glad that the newer videos don't have this constant music overlapping with speech. Not being entirely neurotypical, I find this setup unbearable. Some videos are so great (like this one) that I still watch them, with the sound muted and CC turned on. But it is so much nicer when I don't have to do it that way.

  28. please tell how you keep the squash bugs away. I have had to quit growing my favorite produce, squash of all varieties because of these horrible bugs. I cannot spend day after day spraying with soapy water and pulling off leaves that are covered with eggs! HELP!

  29. I love gardening but certain disabilities have made growing veg very painful and exhausting. I began watching your videos last autumn after starting to work with quite a long strip of garden which had become waste ground over the past few years. It’s looking very different now! I have left areas for natural wild flowers and grasses the fruit bushes are now together in a no dig bed and I am preparing no dig manageable side beds for veg. Thank you so much these videos and your books have transformed the way I now garden into something I can manage and enjoy without being in agony.

  30. I need your help! I need a list of browns from the forest floor that I can use to build soil that holds water and fix land slides and erosion! Any suggestions? I was thinking a combo of leaves twigs and pine needles! Anything else you have in mind?
    All suggestions welcome that use free resources!
    Thank you in advance
    PS I used fresh hey and goat manure so far along with boxes and fallen branches!
    I am doing this to level the ground and make it walkable and water absorbent spot! Your greatly needed!

  31. I knew I had to comment when you mentioned Sungolds! They've been my favorite since the first year I grew them! We are constructing a lean to greenhouse this year and researching the best way to get things going correctly right from the start. Our large main outdoor garden has been tilled every year for ten years just because that is all we knew. The weeds are horrendous though!

  32. Thanks for all your videos Charles, I’m very keen to try this approach as I’ve just taken on an allotment – only issue is that they have rules on ‘demonstrating cultivation’ so pressed for time. First priority is to try and get compost going but in the meantime have black plastic sheeting to at least try & kill the weeds & grass that are covering the area

  33. I'd watch these videos just for the music. Changing is such a pain when you been doing things one way all your life. However, I have been giving it half a try. All I have is leaves, enough to fill a bin about as big as you have used in some of your other videos. At the end of the winter…there were worms almost to the top of bed. I used it to cover my new beds. Some have been dug and I don't see why not. I DON"T have compost, just old leaves. it will be compost but not when I need it. I found that mixing the leaves into the soil has now given me about 3 to 6 inches more depths of "growing medium" and turned the bed into a giant worm bin. Freshly harvested worm castings will give added nutrients plus eggs for some new worms, and plenty of decomposing leaves for them to feed on. About a month ago (middle of February), I went out to see how the garden fared and lifted a shovel full of dirt and leaves and turned it over. I counted about 10 worms without digging through the turned-over wad of dirt. Pushing the shovel into the soil was absolutely no effort at all.
    In the past, incorporating stuff into the soil never lasted long enough because there wasn't enough of it. and the soil becomes very much like brick or cement by the end of July or early August. This year I hope to change that. Also I noticed how well it keeps in moisture. I am enjoying these videos as well as learning how to do things that really help the garden become what it needs to be. Helping us become food-independent.

  34. It has begun. Central US in Oklahoma. Long hot summers where the last two months are a qasi desert-like environment and deep cold snaps in winter. Your composting method words EXACTLY the same here only I need add more moisture. The kitchen compost bucket reveals indoor cardboard soaking in potato water, pasta water and liquid coffee. That is all the additional moisture it needs. The rest is 50:50 approximately with some items cut down to compost better like large fruit and sweet potatoes or turnips. Closed bin. We're windy and do not need open slats! Thank you! I no longer water the stupid compost pile. I even have a polythene tarp to put atop very much like yours. It's all about keeping the moisture *in*. At exactly 7 to 8 weeks, it needs to be turned for air and it looks just as dark, moist and alive as yours!

    Last week I laid my first 4" compost atop a small portion of the garden bed! My 11 yo said, "Nice dirt." Even she knows. I cannot import compost, but have only mine and it's progressing faster than expected. It looks beautiful, Mr. Dowding!

    I've card-boarded 2 whole feet around the outer edge of the garden because our version of the couch grass (Bermuda) has adapted to the harsh climate and is very aggressive. Bermuda does NOT grow in shade. Light exclusion does work, but the stolons can be difficult. 2 foot should keep it out of the garden until I can tend to the edges. I will bring in 4" wood chips for the walkways until such time that the fundamental compost has been laid. Afterwards I will begin building the walk ways with compost as the wood chips decompose.

    For our quasi desert summer time: Top all beds with leaves and leaf mold to reduce evaporation. This has worked well for me in the past and is a local resource.

    You had me at "fertile clay with 6" loam" as this is close to what I have. Gave me reason to believe I could do it!

  35. Am wanting to try no dig on a section of our property that gets easily 8 hours sun. However it was soil that has been back filled after we built 10 years ago and doesn't have a topsoil and very little worm activity. Will adding the materials on top eventually change the structure of the soil? Thanks for any help and love your garden and videos.

  36. video's and garden are lovely! I was going to add a garden in between 5 fruit trees in a row, any suggestions?

  37. Yeah, I WISH I started with weeds. Grass … wireworms. Hate 'em. My root crops. :'( Nematodes? Pyrethrin? Spinosad? All hard to find.

  38. If I don't dig my soil my plants doesn't develop their root system, and without a well developed root system they don't develop their leaves and their fruits

  39. I'm assuming this was Charles' very first YouTube video. Anyways, still a very good video on organic gardening. Hello to all, from Kentucky.

  40. I had a back injury 10 months ago – decided not to dig- discovered Charles Dowding – garden now ten times the size–it works it really does! Thanks Charles Dowding.

  41. Nice vids! Im subscribing. I'm in NJ USA and vermicompost all year in the basement using a tripple stacked container method.. They produce a gallon or more per month of castings which i use mixed with 50% coconut fiber for all the plants as a fantastic suppliment.
    I'm excite to also declare im getting free lettuice seeds from cutting only what was needed in season and letting what's leftover bolt. The remainder will again go to the worms. It is also my first time growing gangs of arugula and we love its bite in salds. Some have flowered too so well have seeds.

  42. Your videos are great. Awesome musical and clip editing comes together with a cheerful voice, clear presentation, and beautiful garden visuals. Very soothing and educational which is inspiring! Thanks!

  43. I am greatful for your videos. Becauce I am physically not very strong, the no dig- method encourages me to have a vegetablegarden aswell.
    Thanks a lot. Sarah from the Netherlands

  44. Hi Charles have you ever experimented with burying Kitchen Scraps directly in the soil as ooposed to traditional composting looks quite interesting might try it

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