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Charles Dowding's Vegetable Course [Paperback]

Charles Dowding
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
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Book Description

1 Mar 2012

Charles Dowding, the master of no-dig gardening, developed his highly successful methods of vegetable growing through 30 years experience of growing and selling vegetables and extensive experiments. Through his courses at Lower Farm in Somerset and his three previous books, he has won a keen following. Beginners and experienced veg growers alike find that his methods work and that he opens their minds to new possibilities. Now he has distilled the essence of his courses and ideas into one book. In it you will find out how to grow vegetables the Charles Dowding way. Charles Dowding's Vegetable Course is both a straightforward guide to success and an inspiring source of ideas for achieving a more productive vegetable garden for less effort.

Lower Farm, run by Charles and Susie Dowding, has been part of Sawday's Special Places to Stay collection for 12 years.

Click the link on the left to visit Sawday's to find out about accommodation at Lower Farm and our other characterful, independently-run places to stay across the UK and Europe. All have been inspected and selected because we like them - what makes each 'special' varies hugely, but common to all are owners whose personality, friendliness and local knowledge ensure a memorable stay.

Frequently Bought Together

Charles Dowding's Vegetable Course + How to Grow Winter Vegetables + Organic Gardening: The Natural No-dig Way full colour edn
Price For All Three: 37.80

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln; Flexibound edition (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0711232679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0711232679
  • Product Dimensions: 24.8 x 18 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I run a beautiful garden of year round vegetables, all growing in soil that is never dug, except to remove parsnips that grow incredibly long. Among the many advantageous results of not digging, with compost on top, is that there are fewer weeds and a healthy abundance of food. I explain this in my books, magazine articles (Gardeners World, Kitchen Garden, Simply Vegetables) and at lectures and courses, both locally and nationally.
My first book on organic gardening without digging came out in 2007, then in a second edition in October 2010, and a third edition in February 2013. I receive many lovely letters (emails) of appreciation and these connections with readers are a fine bonus to the quiet task of writing.
The vegetables I most like to grow are salads and the experience of selling bags of seasonal leaves, all year round, led to the writing of my second book on Salad Leaves for All Seasons, which is used by many commercial growers as well as gardeners. The third book is on Winter Vegetables and covers the hungry gap too, with many tables and photos. Monty Don and Robin Lane Fox like this one.
Then my course book of 2012 is to help readers in the process of setting up a no dig garden, with tips on mulching, tools, weeds and seasonal sowing. It gave birth to the Veg Journal book in 2014, in a month my month format and with pages for notes. Bunny Guinness said in the Sunday Telegraph that it is a 'coffee stained rather than coffee table book", for taking out in the garden. Bunny enjoys a nice cup of coffee while savouring her vegetable garden and that is a major part of my writing, to encourage enjoyment of vegetable growing and a love of your beautiful plants.
Soil and vegetables are my passion and I seek to convey their amazing qualities in my writing and teaching about them; I hope you also learn to enjoy growing and savouring good food.

Product Description


A comprehensive guide to organic growing.


With excellent photographs throughout, this book can help you to enjoy your gardening all year round, and grow a wider variety of vegetables, salads and herbs to feed your friends and family.

(Blackmore Vale magazine)

 I visited Charles' garden some four years ago when he held his annual open day. It turned into a life changing afternoon out. The rotavator was sold and we have never dug since. Our vegetable patch now provides us with virtually all our vegetable needs, is totally organic and looks a picture too. Thank you Charles.

(Sawdays Newsletter)

I don't think I've ever previously sat down and read a book on vegetable growing from cover to cover, but this one had me hooked. It is a model of clarity.

(BBC Gardens Illustrated)

Want to know about vegetables and no-dig gardening? Look no further: Charles Dowding is your guru. Packed with information and first hand experience.

(Oxford Times)

A wonderful book, to devour at a reading and to keep on hand for constant reference and enjoyment.

(The Lady)

What commentators say about Charles Dowding's methods:

'It wasn't the variety of salad leaf shape, texture and colour that impressed me most. It was the plants' health. If ever there was vindication of Dowding's theories, here it was. The leaves seemed to burst from the ground, glossy and exuberant.' Matthew Fort, Guardian

'I first met Charles when Geoff Hamilton and I presented an entire Gardeners' World programe from his organic farm in Somerset. The crops grew on beds that were never dug, but dressed with compost or well-rotted manure . . . A visit to Charles's garden was all I needed to convince me to hang up my spade . . . ' Anne Swithinbank, Gardeners' Question Time [Anne has used Charles' no-dig method since then, and has also adopted his way of growign and picking salad.]

And what course participants say:

'My number one gem from the course was "Don't take perceived wisdom as gospel - try it for yourself and see what works for you." Eka, Oxford

"We have been trying your salad picking method and it has been a raving success. We have been picking for the last 8 weeks or so . . . Despite feeding 8+ people twice weekly and contributing to countless events, the lettuces hardly look as if they have been touched.' Jenny, Cardiff

'It has been fantastic watching the garden come to life over the last year, and I'm looking forward to another full year of produce. Thanks again for showing me how easy it can be.' John, Brighton

Sharpen-up your veg-growing skills with this new guide.

(Amateur Gardening)

'A must for the time stretched.' Bunny Guinness

(Sunday Telegraph)

Charles Dowding is my hero: his no-dig approach to growing has saved me hours of back-breaking work and improved my techniques no end. His tried and tested advice has been proven from years of successful veg production and it's easy to see from the health and vitality of his plants that htis approach really works.

(Guardian Gardening blog)

I found 'The Vegetable Course' a really good read and enjoyable as well. The content has answered so many questions we had as we started plotting, both text and illustrations. In addition I think the publishers did a very good job on the book. The binding works well at the plot, on the sofa and in bed. I do dislike those books that jump out of your hands as you're reading them. Yours behaves itself brilliantly. That the font is readable and the pictures well reproduced makes it a real pleasure. Thank you.

(Ken Bird, reader)

A book for all growers, who will find easier, more productive ways to grow vegetables all the year round within.

(The Landsman)

Offers clearly explained, prectical information on what every gardener wants to know: how to tend your plot with minimal effort and achieve abundant, healthy harvests.

(Kitchen Garden)

This book is essential reading to gardeners of all abilities. The advice given is honest, truthful and fresh without trying to impress its readers and that is what makes this book so impressive. It is the best all round garden book I have read in years and worth every penny of the cover price. This is definitely no ordinary run of the mill book and should be on every gardener's bookshelf even if you have to beg, steal or borrow it.

(Simple Vegetables)

About the Author

Charles Dowding grew up on a dairy farm in Somerset. After graduating from Cambridge he worked for a hotel in the Inner Hebrides before starting to grow organic vegetables commercially on the family farm in the early 1980s. In 1990 he left behind what was by then a large market garden to live in France and Zambia. Returning to Somerset in the mid 1990s, he established a bed and breakfast and vegetable growing business at Lower Farm in Shepton Montague. Charles's salad bags are now the main output from his two-acre garden of permanent raised beds and fruit trees. Charles also runs his vegetable-growing courses at Lower Farm and lectures and writes books on his unique growing techniques.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another inspiring title 13 Mar 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a distillation of charles' course, and is full of convincing arguements to give no-dig gardening a go. There are compulsive arguements about the destruction caused by constant digging of the soil, and with charles methods and instructions there is hope beyond the back breaking rituals associated with traditional veg gardening.
Yes it does take lots of vigilance in the first few seasons to keep on top of the weeds, and yes it needs large amounts of compost to make it work. On my allotment i intend to use the ideas in this book as much as i can, disturbing the ground as little as possible, and try to keep areas clear of weeds and covered in compost. I started this approach last year and it did work.

This book isn't going to be to everyones taste, some people actually like digging, but the proof is in the pudding, and bearing in mind that charles runs a business from his smallholding, the results must be good.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charles Dowding's Vegetable Course 14 Mar 2012
I absolutely love this book - it's already become my bible. I already did a version of no-dig on my allotment, but without enough knowledge of exactly how. This book takes you really logically through all the how-to's (and the reasons why) - with the detail all laid out well so that it's easy to find, understand, and put into practice. With the help of this book, I now have the confidence to run my plot a lot more successfully.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charles Dowding's Veg Course 13 April 2012
By Muriel
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very practical, 'down to earth' book. I have finger and soil prints all over it already as it is so straightforward for sowing and planting vegetables at this critical time. I especially like the charts of what to sow/plant and how many weeks it takes until harvest. If you had no other reference book this would guide you safely through from start to finish.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend that you read this 30 May 2012
By Sheila
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book has opened my eyes to a whole new way of gardening,making it less of a chore and more of a pleasure and helps you to achieve great results in the garden whatever size your garden may be.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By bowshie
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A brilliant book on vegetable growing, which should be on every allotment grower`s and vegetable grower`s table. Also a valuable source of information for gardeners. Charles Dowding`s views, once read, become part of your normal gardening practice. Excellent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gardening 7 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very practical book that gives you all you need to know about vegetable gardening.
I particularly liked the fact that the chapters are arranged by season, by vegetable and how to grow in succession so that you can cross reference at any stage.
I am an experienced gardener and was inspired by a recent talk by the author as the thought of letting the worms do the digging was very appealing to someone who is now starting to feel the effects of old age!
The book has also explained how I can keep much more of my garden in productive use rather than growing weeds.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Commonsense advice 28 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The advice in this book is borne out of years of succesful vegetable growing. It explodes a lot of myths that are repeated in gardening books and magazines. It left me itching to put Dowding advice into practice
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charles Dowding's Vegetable Course 1 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Being an experienced gardener and one who always Winter dug,i was a bit dubious when i first started reading and studying what was being preached in this 'Bible' HOWEVER this system works,the book is easy to read well illustrated and answers any questions that a no dig sceptic might throw at one who practices this method.This book was for me at least Money well spent.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Pain free gardening
My physio recommended this book. Say no more! No more aches, pains and injuries from digging my large veg patch.

Very informative and inspiring book. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Tim Norriss
5.0 out of 5 stars recommend
This book came highly recommended by a friend, looking forward to putting it to use in the new year. Was delivered promptly and in excellent condition
Published 4 months ago by Shaz
5.0 out of 5 stars Charles Dowding
This is an EXCELLENT book. I have dozens of gardening books and this one by Charles Dowding, after the first chapter, explained to me how the garden lives and how to nurture the... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Gilly
5.0 out of 5 stars Infectious enthusiasm
Charles has written several books which are all excellent but this is the one to get as it is beautifully presented and contains nearly all the content of the others. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Martin Essayan
5.0 out of 5 stars Kitchen Gardening
Fantastic honest journey into growing your own vegetables. The facts from a professional grower. Excellent read and easy to understand.
Published 12 months ago by M. E. Stedman
4.0 out of 5 stars growing veges
found this very interesting, , informative and lots of tips will make my vege. growing and gardening a lot easier
Published 13 months ago by marian lazell
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting ideas
Interesting explanation of 'no dig' system. I have grown vegetables for a few years but still found things to learn and think about. Read more
Published 14 months ago by SMD
5.0 out of 5 stars Years of distilled knowledge for the benefit of all.
I am new to vegetable growing, with my third season just about on the horizon. I have read a variety of titles on the subject and would write that, overall, this is the most... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Tris Fitzmaurice
5.0 out of 5 stars great for gardeners
Ideal book when faced with a garden full of weeds. have followed this to the letter and can't wait for spring to begin planting
Published 16 months ago by Sally Shenton
4.0 out of 5 stars Great value
Bought as a present so not sure of content but recipient very pleased with it and he would recommend it to all keen veggie growers.
Published 17 months ago by maggie soulsby
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