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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 22 April 2011
My bookshelves groan with the weight of the hundreds of gardening books I have collected over the years. The lovely Monty Don, the much-missed Geoff Hamilton, RHS etc. However, Charles Dowding's latest book means I could throw them all away, as it contains every single thing I could ever need to know about the best way to grow veg and fruit.

It is written so clearly, with enormous thought put into every question you might have covered so clearly. It is never boring or tedious or long-winded. He also recommends specific varieties of veg to get, which is such a help when over-whelmed by all the choice out there. In his suppliers' appendix he mentions Delflands nursery, from whom I have ordered and their produce is superb & incredibly good value. The copper tools he mentions are a great boon & do seem to deter slugs.
Last Summer, thanks to his 1st edition of this book, my veg garden, which is 90 ft by 60 ft, was admired by all my friends & even photographed by them. More importantly, it provided plentiful food all year with far less effort & far better results than ever achieved before.
Charles Dowding also has a website with wonderful advice & he answers emailed questions personally in his generous way.

His no-dig method is both simple & brilliant. It has saved us days of back-breaking work which actually harms the soil. Bob Flowerdew also uses the no-dig method, but has not written a book as clear & comprehensive as this one.

This is not a coffee table book with arty photos of someone digging, it has clear, colour photos of step-by-step methods & the results compared with other methods in photographs. Fascinating & very convincing (& true as I have proved myself).

This book must be seen as the labour of love it is; generous sharing with us all of his lifetime of knowledge of what really works.

I don't know how adequately to do this wonderful book justice; please do buy it. Whether you have no knowledge, or if you are a very experienced gardener, you will be so very glad you did.

This book has literally changed my life.
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My husband used to spend every minute from March to May digging and re-digging his veg patch. We put in raised beds and followed Charles Dowdings advice and we have had much better veg and he now really enjoys his gardening... we have a greenhouse full of young seedlings and another exciting year in store!
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on 29 July 2008
This is a gardening book of the old school, one that is based on proven, tested experience and not the ususal unsubstantiated platitudes so easy to find in most books on the subject published these days.

Light on pictures and full of accurate information this is now my most valued book on vegetable growing, and would be useful to any allotment or home grower of food. In fact the book's title sells it short, as much of the book would be helpful to an organic 'digger' or even a non-organic grower.

If you grow vegetables, fruit or herbs than you should read this book.
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on 22 May 2009
Everything you'll ever need to know about raised beds and no-dig organic gardening. Lots of stuff I've never read before about how important it is to grow the right veg, herb, fruit at the right time. i.e. Spring isn't always the optimum time for sowing certain varieties - which explains why some of my plants - although organically grown and given loads of TLC didn't thrive. Excellent book by someone who absolutely knows his stuff. I want to be let loose in his garden and then cook myself dinner! A must have for anyone who cares about their green footprint, wants to garden 'with' and not 'against' nature, and wants to make the most of a small area to grow the best stuff.
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on 15 January 2010
Charles Dowding has not dug his garden for twenty five years except to clear perennial weeds and turf. Is he mad ? Apparently not, his method of intensive and strictly no dig gardening produces astounding vegetables, if of course one can be astounded by veg !! If it takes some of the hard work out of gardening then I instantly become a fan. Time wasted needlessly churning the soil doing more harm than good can be put to better use elsewhere, drinking tea perhaps and admiring ones unused garden fork.

After a quick explanation of what exactly organic gardening is the author takes us through the basics of what to grow, whats in season, dealing with pests and disease, sowing seeds, making compost and even gardening by the moon ! Not by moonlight I might add but using the lunar calendar to predict the best times for planting crops.

He then proceeds to share information on every type of vegetable we would want to plant , and some we wouldn't ! For example with leeks we are told when to sow and harvest, what to follow with next year, the optimum spacing and details of each varieties character. The possible problems and how to combat them and also how to save the seed. We also get a tasty leek recipie ( Well I presume it's tasty ) To say the information contained therein is comprehensive would be a gross understatement, short of drawing a family tree there is no more information to give.

It's not just veg, tree fruit, berries, herbs and edible flowers are also explored and I must say a finer book will be hard to find, it's presented in a clear and coherent format and makes a fantastic reference book. This is a must read for the enthusiastic organic gardener.
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on 25 May 2011
Thanks to this book, I have been growing fresh vegetables this year, in my back garden. I ordered 2 raised beds in february and I can't even see them anymore! I am growing peas, strawberries, tomatoes, radishes, rocket, little gems, lolo rosso (the lettuces grow brilliantly, I don't even have slugs!), parsley, coriander, spinach, pak choi (massive!), spring onions and chard! well, everything is growing lots and lots! I eat fresh lettuce nearly everyday! It's magic! Can't believe I bought lettuce wrapped in plastic before when it is so much easier to grow my own... and cheaper too!!! I am very pleased with this book, and very proud to be growing my own food! :)
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VINE VOICEon 5 July 2011
Worth reading for the no dig technique, although this actually takes up a very small amount of the book as it is really quite straightforward. In fact it's covered on Charles' website pretty much. But there is more detail and background as to why and how no dig method works with direct comparisons to dug beds.

He also talks about the right time for sowing to avoid common problems like disease and pests which is a bit more indepth. And there's even a chapter on sowing using moon cycles which he is neither prescriptive or dismissive of.

I've given 4 stars rather than 5 because I would have liked a little more on no dig method including an indication of how long the mulch and cardboard method might take to kill lawn it's placed on. Also what would be handy is some instruction on making basic raised beds using your own timber and perhaps a look at the usefulness of commercially available raised beds.

Also it's well written and easy to read sitting down reading chapter by chapter at the beginning and then skipping to chapters on each veg group. But as a reference to dip into quickly about one issue or another it's more difficult to quickly pick out the information required. For instance I knew he talks about the right time to plant brassicas and mentioned this to someone but when I dipped into the brassicas section found I was having to skim read pages to try and find the info (which I never did). So perhaps it lacks some clarity in organising the information.

But it's been worth it to learn about how I can have my vegetable patch and not dig, ever (once roots are removed from a plot). Great news for someone with back and health problems - though I will need help to spread compost and/or manure each year but this is much easier than back breaking plot digging.
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on 4 February 2011
This is a delightful book that gives me great pleasure, whilst being uniquely informative.
I love digging, but have to admit my veg prefer the method in this book. There's still plenty of work to do, but it's work that improves the soil, thereby improving the plants' and ultimately my own health.
Although I am a fairly experienced gardener, I have learned a lot from this book, in fact it's the one I base my planning on now. There are many ideas here which are not found in other books, and just make so much sense - eg, basing your sowing timetable around the cycle of pests and the cycle of growth of each plant, rather than straining to go against nature. Thus you can have caterpillar free broccoli (sown in later summer), and start thinking about the 'role' of slugs and how to prevent too many circulating.
I now just use this book and Joy Larkcom's vegetable book (Grow Your Own Vegetables - all the detail you ever want, and also thoroughly recommended), and have got rid of all my other 'conventional' gardening books.
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VINE VOICEon 30 April 2007
A highly productive vegetable garden that involves no digging, written by a man with no formal horticultural training, and organic to boot? You may be permitted a certain cynicism.

However if that cynicism stops you from reading this book then you will have missed out on a treasure.

This book is now my first port of call when I am looking for a gardening solution. As a beginner and non-scientist, I found his style easy to understand packed with useful tips and coherent in that it took me from an uninformed start to considering quite complicated seasonal planning without loosing the plot or throwing my hands up in confused despair. The results at the Domaine de Montrouch are looking promising- if the wild boar don't decide they fancy a salad dinner one night.
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on 5 March 2011
I'm so glad Charles wrote this book. He is a "Intensive French Biodynamic Organic Gardener" and as you read you'll see that that is exactly what you want to be too. This book offers an introduction to the great common sense ideas and how being a "IFBOG" will give you the allotment, the produce and the enjoyment you are looking for when you decide to grow your own.

Who wants to dig..really? Who wants to use chemicals? Who wants to work with nature to get the best produce? Who wants the best taste from your veg? If your answers are, not me, not me, yes me, and me, then please buy this book and do not dig again, ever. Charles explains why all this is common sense and shows his results compared with the "dig method" (twice even :-0!). He also discusses and suggests plants and varieties, buying seeds, sowing times, composting, pests and even recipes to enjoy.

My only complaint is that it is an introduction. I want more! Please, and in more depth, this IFBOG approach is very exciting and I'm so glad I bought this book.
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