No Dig and Nordic
Author: Pep Kelly, 9 July 2021
If you have heard of “No Dig”, you most certainly will have heard of Charles Dowding. Charles is one of those special people who, once met, you never forget. His practice of nurturing the soil, growing vegetables and sharing his insight from forty years plus, of practical market gardening experience has enlightened many of his followers over the years and is helping to push the global sustainability agenda from the ground up.
Even the initial sceptics, like the Royal Horticultural Society have started to acknowledge Charles’ teachings, with No Dig beds featured in their flagship garden at Wisley, an article in their monthly members magazines, The Garden (October 2019) and also, the first No Dig Show Garden, featured this year (2021) at the RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival.
It was at this show garden that I met with Charles, on the first preview day of the show. I was happy to be able to bring him a “new improved” Nordic Water Kefir, which he had given feedback on several months earlier. You can watch this five minute interview, on our youtube channel by clicking here.
In this interview, Charles speaks of the importance of looking after our soil. 95% of the worlds food comes from the soil (explained in the video I was kindly invited to watch in The Land Gardeners tent, next door). Good healthy soil provides healthy food and a healthy planet, and in turn, healthy people. We need to pay attention to our earth, with some organisations warning that we only have 60 harvests left, if no action is taken.
Built by Stephanie Hafferty, with plants grown by Terry Porter, the RHS No Dig show garden 2021 showcases the principles of No Dig beautifully;
The Principles of No Dig
No turning of soil – just add one to two inches of mulch annually to the top instead. This nourishes the soil through the natural action of worms and other micro-organisms. Rotation of crops is not necessary, interplanting and planting in clusters can intensify the productive area. Use a horticultural fleece and, or mesh to protect from pests and variances in temperature, particularly when plants are young. Collection of rain and an area for composting and for bugs to live, as well as flowers interspersed between vegetables to encourage wasps and bees. No pesticides. All organic.
Charles wonderful spirit and no nonsense, sustainable approach to growing food and looking after the earth is a gentle reminder to us all of the need to “tread softly” on our mother earth.
As well as speaking globally on the topic of No Dig, Charles runs day and weekend courses in his own garden at "Homeacres" in Somerset. He has also featured on many TV shows, magazines, podcasts and news articles and also speaks at guest events.
If you want to know more and learn about a kinder, simpler, more sustainable and productive way to grow vegetables and flowers, check out Charles’ No Dig teachings on Instagram, Facebook, youtube or his website.
Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty speaking on No Dig, RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival 2021
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