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on 8 September 2014
If you only ever buy one book about vegetable gardening - buy this one by Charles Dowding. Packed with clear, concise information about how to lay out beds, composting and how and when to sow and grow a terrific range of vegetables. I wish I owned this book years ago and can't wait to buy his other books. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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on 12 March 2016
This book is perfect for anybody who wants to garden naturally. Charles Dowding explains very clearly how to choose the right plants for your garden and explains the best ways to keep them insect free. He explains how to keep an eye on your own garden and see the changes that are happening so that you can create the best environment for your growing fruits and vegetables. Charles guides you through the year informing you when to plant your seeds and how to cultivate them. A perfect book for any novice and experienced gardeners alike.
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on 17 March 2014
A very helpful introduction to 'no-dig' and the basic ideas behind it and organic gardening. It is simple to understand, well-illustrated and provides much unusual information about planting times and vegetable varieties. As one of millions of sufferers of back pain, I have been considering 'no-dig' for some years and I'm now using this book to set me properly on the road. My small rotovator is unlikely to see the light of day in future.
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on 2 April 2017
Wish I'd bought this book years ago!
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on 14 June 2017
brilliant book !!
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on 21 March 2014
Great book with lots of information, tips to save money and avoid disappointing results, looking forward to putting them into practice
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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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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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on 26 June 2012
In my earlier review of Dowding's book on winter vegetables I was more disparaging of this book than I now think is justified. I've warmed to it, and found much useful information in it. The part about the no-dig method, in particular Dowding's experiments to test its efficacy, are admirable, and a really good read to boot. In fact, chapters 1-7 comprise a really good introduction to gardening in general and the no-dig method in particular.

Part 2, in which the various vegetables, herbs and fruit are listed, is actually a reference book, and, again, contains and awful lot of useful information. I was initially irritated by the jump from the discursive Part 1 (chapters 1-8) and this latter part, but if you treat it as what it is then it makes perfect sense to have it here. I also applaud Dowding's appendix (err...not his actual appendix! I'll get me coat....), and the table on page 29 (when to sow etc) is very useful.

Still...some aspects remain irritating: The recipes (why bother? I've yet to see a gardening book that's also a good cookery book, and vice versa for that matter, and this is no different); the reference section is useful, but as a practical gardening reference not a patch on Hessayon's classic "Vegetable and Herb Expert", which I'd still recommend to anyone; and then there's Chapter 8: "The Moon". Ok, it's only a few pages in length, but after a wholly admirable and rational argument in favour of the no-dig method, backed up by his own tests, we get this hocus pocus, with references to astrology (for crying out loud!). Come one Mr Dowding! You can do better than this! If you think there's something there please make a rational argument to this effect. Ok..rant over. :-)

Overall though, a worthwhile buy. I differ from most reviewers though in that I do think it has flaws.
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on 26 August 2015
This is a good book, with much useful information. Dowding is not the originator of the no-dig approach to gardening, but he has done a lot to popularise it, and to demonstrate its effectiveness. Quite a bit of the book is taken up with an explanation of the philosophy behind his approach e.g. Using compost as a mulch to keep down weeds, as well as feeding the soil. There are also sections on each group of fruit and veg, with sections on the major crops such as beetroot and onions. Whilst I do recommend this book, it is not without fault. He omits less common crops such as root parsley, and he only mentions a few recommended varieties for each plant. That said, these are minor quibbles. The key message, that there is no need to dig, and that an organic no dig approach is not only easier, but better for you and wildlife is put across in a convincing manner. I have gone over to no dig, and had few weeds to clear, and excellent harvests. It works.
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