About my garden

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Garden visit - Charles Dowding - Homeacres, Somerset

I was lucky enough to be free this year when Charles Dowding opened his garden on Sunday afternoon. If you have not heard of him he is an no-dig, organic vegetable grower extraordinaire. Have a look at his website here. If you are local to Somerset you may well have already seen his amazing plot. It is not enourmous but he packs a lot in.
He grows vegetables and salad leaves and supplies local shops. He has written several books and runs courses from his home. 

Great compost heaps, of course. The no-dig method relies on layering quantities of manure and compost on the top of the soil.

Abundant squashes. I was pleased to see that the plants were dying off as mine are looking rather ropey and I thought I had done something wrong. I suppose it's just the time of year. 

If I had to pick out something, the tomatoes were the most amazing plants. They were seven plus feet tall and the stems were thick and sturdy. They are grown up strings braced by the frame of the poly tunnel. All the lower leaves had been removed and there were so many trusses:
All the fruit looked glossy and fantastic.  These are cherry tomatoes.
This garden has been built from scratch, using the no dig layering method, in only a couple of years. It looks as though it has been here for years.
The plants are fairly well spaced apart which is good for slug control and gives them fewer places to hide.

Charles Dowding specialises in growing salads. His technique is only to sow a few times a year and to keep picking the leaves from the same plants. What you see here are lettuces which are still being cropped which is why the stems are so tall. Loose leaf and hearting types can be treated like this.

This garden is obviously meticulously managed and Charles also carries out experiments and trials. Above is a Dig/No-dig experiment. The two beds are prepared differently but planted up with the same plants. The dug bed is on the left. As you see there is very little difference in the size or health of the plants in August. On his website Charles Dowding has complete records of the preparation of the beds and the cropping from the last two years.

I always like the backstage areas. I took particular note that the compost used was West Riding Organic multi purpose. I have had trouble with compost this year and I know other people in blogland have had similar trials and tribulations. This compost looks gorgeous, I stuck my hand in the bag and it felt gorgeous.
 Squashes grown in a hot bed.
More squashes.
Such an inspiring garden. I'm so glad I went and I'm hoping some of the magic rubbed off and I brought it home. The secret is really constant care and vigilance. My problem is that I only manage that sometimes!

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