I hate being late for things. Really hate it. Which is funny because I am late for everything. I tell myself a half hour earlier for things so that there is some chance I’ll make it on time – it doesn’t work. I get up earlier so that I’ll have more time to get myself and the Little Paddler ready – it doesn’t work. I get a load of stuff ready or packed up the night before hand to make things easier the following morning – it doesn’t work. On the rare occasion that I am on time or early, no one is expecting it so then I am waiting on them to get ready. I hate being late.
It seems that once again I am a bit late to the party. At least where no-dig gardening is concerned. You see, I splashed out at Christmas time and got myself a few books. I am determined that this year I get the vegetable beds done right and the plants sown and planted out on time. Even if it’s just to prove to myself that I can at least be on time and organised in one aspect of my life. Top of the list of my Christmas purchases was Charles Dowding’s Vegetable Course. Charles as written a lot of books in his time. I was hard pushed to pick one but after trawling through reviews and humming and hawing, I finally bit the bullet and picked his Vegetable Course. Why oh why did I not get this book sooner? I love it and it’s easy read, gentle words and winning ways. It speaks to the lazy gardener in me. No digging you say? No back breaking labour you say? Working with nature you say?
Its fifteen chapters take you through the whys, hows and whens of no-dig gardening. And that’s the kind of book I need. One that spells it all out for me. A brief overview of the year and what happens when is followed by sections on tools, soil, compost, mulching, saving seeds, propagation, starting under cover, making paths. One chapter for vegetables in general and another devoted to just salads but how to get them all year round. Basically, everything. It really is a complete distilled vegetable course.
And he really does get right back down to basics including the raised bed with sides v no sides v level ground dilemma. We have opted for raised beds with sides. He has a whole chapter devoted to weeds which I have never seen in a gardening book before but maybe that just means that I haven’t read enough gardening books…. And his chapter on pests and diseases is more comprehensive than any of my other books although I have come across more detailed chapters on pests and diseases in other books.
His last chapter though might be the real gem for me. A Top Ten of Vegetables. As he says in the opening few lines, these are basically gateway vegetables – they can crop at various times during the year, they have a huge number of varieties to try, can be harvested old or young for even more variety and have similar methods needed to grow other closely related vegetables. FYI, his top ten are:
- broad beans
- French and runner beans
- onions and shallots
If I could manage to grow all of those throughout the year I would be a happy camper.
Charles has spent many years putting his money where his mouth is with his no-dig gardening methods. I love that he has carried out experiments to compare it to more common gardening practices. It isn’t just some random idea he has hit on to make his life easier. It happens to do just that but there’s a logic and a reason to it. Occasionally I do resort to logic. I certainly need a bit of logic when trying to persuade the more practically minded Mr. Fairweather. It was great to simply hand the book over to him opened at chapter one: New Ways to Grow or chapter four: Explaining No-Dig. Charles had done the hard work for me. Mr. Fairweather is intrigued enough to climb aboard for this adventure. He’s finished my beds and I just have to fill them. I have seeds sown and am pricking them out to mature a bit more. I could be on to a winner this year. Thank you Mr. Dowding