Charles is a passionate and accomplished gardener, who grows vegetables of amazing flavour. --Raymond Blanc
Charles Dowding, who started the first vegetable box scheme in 1983, shares the philosophy, tips and techniques which have enabled him to run a successful organic garden supplying local restaurants and shops for over 25 years.
From the Back Cover
Forget the rules: `received wisdom' about gardening is surprisingly inaccurate. Understand better what is going on in the soil and with your plants, in your own garden and climate, and work out your own methods instead.
Respect and encourage life as much as your can, chiefly by spreading good compost or manure.
There is no need to dig in compost and manure - just spread it on top and let worms take it in. Digging can harm soil structure, and is not helpful to plants.
You can reduce weeding to a little hand-weeding or hoeing every ten days.
Based on his experience of a system of permanent slightly raised beds, Charles takes you through a delicious variety of fruit and vegetables: what to choose, when to plant and harvest, and how best to avoid pests and diseases. The book includes recipes to inspire you to culinary heights with your fresh-picked produce.
About the Author
turf, for twenty-five years; he started growing organic vegetables
commercially in 1982 and has farmed in both Somerset and France, and had a
programme of Gardener's World devoted to his farm. He now crops almost an
acre on intensive raised beds, runs courses, and sells salad bags and veg
boxes from his farm. He contributed to The Complete Manual of Organic
Gardening (Headline 1992), and writes for RHS magazine and Blackmore Vale
Magazine. He lives in Shepton Montague, Somerset
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
I am quite sure that this book will play an important role in reconnecting
us with our food through instinctive contact with nature in the vegetable
I first became aware of Charles Dowding's existence in the early 1980s
through stories of his extraordinary vegetable garden in Somerset. Visitors
spoke of his pioneering `French intensive biodynamic method' raised
vegetable beds and of how he expected his `volunteer' workers to work
extraordinary hours, only exceeded by his own total commitment to his
garden. I was also told that his vegetables were large, beautiful,
delicious, and much sought after!
When I subsequently met Charles, my image of this man of imposing strength
was softened by the reality of his kind and benevolent presence. However,
it became clear that I only needed to adjust my imaginary picture of the
man, not his vegetables!
Charles is a brilliant gardener, a thoughtful and natural communicator, and
he has emerged as one of the leading pioneer growers in the UK organic
movement and a frequenter of the conferences, farm walks, seminars and
other gatherings that came to dominate the lives of the hundred or so
people whose work laid the foundations of the UK organic movement. One of
the fascinating aspects of organic growing is that it represents a bridge
between farming and gardening. In an era where most citizens have become
estranged from agriculture, I can think of no better person than Charles to
forge new links through a better understanding of the vegetable kingdom. As
he explains in this book, the secret is to be creative, and to garden by
nature's rhythms as they work in your garden rather than by textbook rules.
All one needs is a basic understanding of the seasons and relationships to
make a success of your garden. Above all, the aim is to create a healthy
Health is more than absence of disease. It is a positive, glowing state,
and the best fruit and vegetables grow in healthy soil. Healthy soil is
defined by soil life more than by chemical nutrients. A really fertile soil
needs no digging or cultivation - in fact it does better without it!
Compost is the magic potion to bring extra life and health to soil and
crops - simply spread it on the surface.
I do hope that you derive inspiration from this book, whose author is a man
who truly practises what he preaches!
Patrick Holden CBE
Director, The Soil Association