Archive for the ‘No dig’ Category

Charles Dowding at Homeacres Back in spring last year I went to visit Charles Dowding on his well-established ‘No Dig’ farm in Somerset. I’d read his books on ‘No Dig’ gardening, packed full of useful advice and information, but it was wonderful to see first hand how well his vegetables (and fruit) were growing on soil that had never been dug over.

However, this year Charles has moved a few miles away to a new farm, Homeacres, and I popped by recently to see how all was progressing. I was amazed to see how well everything is growing only months after creating his new beds.

Charles has used a 50:50 mixture of well-rotted manure (broken down over about 18 months) and the council’s recycled green waste compost to grow in, building up the new beds on top of grass to approximately 6 inches high. These new areas have been contained and defined using scaffolding boards and netting has been used to keep off pesky badgers.

Charles admits that it takes a lot of effort to initially build up the fertility of his soil, and luckily he had a plentiful supply of well-rotted manure from his previous farm. He keeps a sharp eye on perennial weeds, such as couch grass, thistles, bind weed and buttercups, pulling these out  as they pop up through the newly composted beds, and eventually these will be weakened enough not to return. Charles Dowding in his greenhouse Apart from a few experimental areas, all his new beds (outside and in his greenhouse) are ‘No Dig’, never once disturbing the structure of the soil beneath the beds, and his lettuces and other veg have been growing impressively well this spring and summer. (more…)

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Sumptuous curves of Amsterdam

Inspired by Wellywoman’s Golden Welly awards, I thought I’d have a look back over the year and round-up some of my favourite horticultural experiences. So in no particular order (other than what first pops into my head)…..

On the third weekend every June, usually hidden Canal Gardens in Amsterdam are open to the public, so I popped over to Holland with fellow blogger Veronica (you can just see her there in the background) to have a look. (In 2013 Open Canal gardens are 14-16 June ).I have to admit, the omnipresent box parterres were slightly overwhelming by the end of the weekend, but I loved the giant curvaceous sculptural box forms in this garden at Kerkstraat 67.

Sumptuously curvy hedging in Amsterdam 2

Impeccably maintained, this garden was the most inspirational by far out of the 25 gardens or so that we packed in over the two days.

pots in Amsterdam 2

I haven’t been to Amsterdam for years, and I’d forgotten what a fantastic place it is just to hang out. And maybe the real horticultural treat for me over the weekend was not so much the canal gardens (although some were stunning), but the great planting that you see in the streets throughout this beautiful city.

pots in Amsterdam_

At every turn, pots were bursting with blooms,

Streets of Amsterdam

and roses adorned all manner of objects, seemingly springing out of deep concrete. Amazing!

De Kas Restaurant in Amsterdam

To complete our horticulturally themed weekend, we dined at De Kas restaurant, a short tram ride just outside the city centre. It’s a fabulous spot. Vegetable beds surround an enormous revamped municipal greenhouse and dining in this open airy structure added to the joy of eating their delicious meals, where fresh produce from the gardens is used as much as possible.

Black Krim tomatoes

Back in Blighty, I know it wasn’t a great year for tomatoes, but Black Krim, a beefsteak variety which I’d tasted the previous summer at Victoriana Nurseries , was another curvaceous delight. It looks wild and tastes great. Really meaty and rich. I’m definitely growing these again next year. (more…)

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Back in April (about 16 weeks ago), inspired by Charles Dowding’s experiments on his ‘no dig’ farm, I planted up three Charlotte potatoes straight on top of fresh grass as a ‘no dig’ growing experiment in our community front garden. I initially covered them with 6 inches of compost and then earthed them up just once after about 7 weeks.

Today, neighbour Julia and her daughter helped me dig up the crop to see how successful my trial had been. Although the potatoes had flowered a good few weeks ago, I left them to continue to grow as I was worried that the rain would have held them back a bit.

I needn’t have worried. Some of these are whoppers, not very ‘new potato’ in size, but I’m mightily impressed.

From the original potato trio, we harvested a very respectable 15lbs worth.

So there you have it. It works!  And I’m never gonna dig again. (‘guilty trees I’ve got no sedum’-a Cantona-esque rendition for all those George Michael fans out there!)

P.s. More ‘no dig’ success with gorgeous heritage potatoes here

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