Book Review: No Dig by Charles Dowding

There is nothing like a cloth-bound book.  They are so lovely to hold, they feel like they have been made with love.  They have quality, they have style.  It is no wonder then that this latest book from Charles Dowding 'No Dig' is cloth-bound.

I have not paid for this book and I have not been paid to write this review, my words and opinions are as ever my own.

Apparently you cannot judge a book by its cover, but in this case you can.  This is a book of quality and style and whilst the title 'No Dig' is short, what it means in reality is 'everything you could have possibly wanted to know about No Dig but did not know where to start asking'.

Charles starts the book by giving us a brief overview of his introduction to No Dig through the work of the Soil Association and Ruth Stout and how he has developed this knowledge through years of experience gardening here in the UK where slugs adore our (mainly) damp conditions.  A dose of reality at the start of any book is always welcome to me.   I confess to being a little amused at the amount of photos of soily-hands in the book, but it gets its message across.  This is real not a theoretical premise.

Charles tells us how to get started on our own No Dig journeys.  He tells us that this is about working cleverly to save time and make our gardens more productive, rather than it being just about being lazy.  Personally either explanation works for me.  As you would expect Charles talks about soil and compost (he is the king of compost!).  He talks about how to mulch to reduce/prevent weeds.  Whilst cardboard and compost layers are good if you have few weeds to deal with, mulching with black plastic sheeting to deal with more pernicious areas is good.  Regular readers will know I have recently covered my veg garden with black plastic sheeting to do just this as I need to restart/reboot this area of the garden.  I can remember when I visited Charles's garden in 2020 being surprised when he was telling us that wooden edging for raised beds can harbour slugs.  I was not surprised because I did not know this, I was surprised that it was not just in my garden where such things happened and that there was an easier alternative.

Every aspect of how to grow vegetables is covered.  When and how to plant, when and how to harvest, what tools you need (a long handed dibber is now on my 'must have' list) and a directory of vegetables and herbs to grow which contains good everyday vegetables, not lots of fancy-pants fashionable stuff that no one has ever heard of.

The photography in the book is by Jonathan Buckley and is superb.  It has great beauty and also shows you want you need to see.  The illustrations by Nicola Powling are also wonderful.  They have simplicity and great style.

I really like this book, as someone who is currently struggling with motivation to grow veg this is the sort of wake up call I need.  I think it will greatly inform what my veg garden will become next year when the black plastic sheeting has done its work.

No Dig by Charles Dowding is published by DK.  It retails at around £30 depending where you buy it from (the obvious online bookseller sells it for less) or if you want a signed version you can buy it from Charles's online shop 

Take care and be kind.

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  1. Nice review Alison. Thank you I find this book so useful I actually have two;one in the house and one in my poly tunnel to make sure I remember planting distances etc. I've just been rereading his Skills book and so enjoy all the details and practical tips.
    Charles certainly know wherof he speaks. The fact he is still experimenting, supporting new growers around the world and producing a book for children is admirable.
    My next purchase will be the Recipe book he has co-written with the lass who provides the hospitality and wonderful meals for his classes.
    I have copies of his leaflet and share them with all the garden and horticultural groups I belong to as well as our local allotment societies. We can help spread the No-Dig word out there by asking for it at our local libraries.


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