Better Late Than Never

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?

dsc_1413.jpgIts 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.

dsc_1414.jpgAnd 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: dsc_1412.jpg

  1. broad beans
  2. French and runner beans
  3. carrots
  4. courgettes
  5. leeks
  6. onions and shallots
  7. peas
  8. potatoes
  9. sweetcorn
  10. tomatoes

If I could manage to grow all of those throughout the year I would be a happy camper.

dsc_1411.jpgCharles 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


16 thoughts on “Better Late Than Never

  1. I must investigate this lazy gardener’s guide as it does sound rather after my own heart–sadly with my gallivanting back and forth to dad’s our garden days have been put on a hiatus—from a massive garden two years ago, I am now relegated to a tomato plant…the chicken coop has sat empty for 2.5 years—one day I’ll get back to it—so for now, I will enjoy watching you and hearing of your adventures 🙂


      1. 🙂 I’m so glad I’m not the only person just starting no dig! I’m late on the social media wagon; don’t even have facebook! Hopefully plan to set it up soon and will then link in to my blog. How are you starting your beds?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. With a lot of talking about it firstly. 😂
        Raised beds. Going to strip weeds and grass and layer cardboard first. Don’t have enough compost so will have to layer topsoil in first and then a thick layer of compost. Maybe another layer of cardboard between the two? It’s not rigidly sticking to his methods but it’s all we can manage on our budget at the minute.
        I’ve only recently started Twitter and Instagram. Still getting the hang of Twitter but love Instagram!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Awesome! I am also in the ‘too poor to buy topsoil’ boat and am going for an experimental approach inspired by Anni Kelsey. I’m turning the turf with about a forks depth of topsoil attached, bashing it into smaller clods and removing obvious weed roots as I go (and turning a deliberate blind eye to what may or may not be couch grass – I suspect that will catch up with me later in the season!) once it’s smooth with no big(ish) lumps I’m emptying a big compost bag and a half over the top and smoothing the surface. I couldn’t get enough cardboard or straw together for the more ‘traditional’ no dig method. I suspect I will have to do a bit more weeding then usual at least in the first year, but I’m hoping that by leaving the turf in it will rot down to creat that ‘friable texture’ organically.
        Feel free to tell me that this is a dumb approach haha!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. So far I’m only missing thistles from that list! I plan on water composting my deep rooting weeds for fertiliser. We shall definitely have to compare notes. I’m really interested to see how our gardens develop!

        Liked by 1 person

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