Friday, 26 November 2010

No Dig Gardening, books and Winter Colour

The light at this time of year is really beautiful, the colours have a real vibrancy.

As well as the autumnal colours and foliage, I'm cheered to see a few flowers adding their brightness too.

With the days shortening and nights getting longer I've been catching up on some reading and finally got myself a copy of Charles Dowding's 'Organic Gardening: The Natural No Dig Way'.
I highly recommend it - I haven't quite finished it yet, but I love the idea of leaving the soil structure as intact as possible and minimizing disturbance.

I had already come across the idea of 'no dig' gardening in permaculture literature and I'm enjoying looking into it further and using it, hopefully exclusively, on my plot.
I already learnt this year how silly it is to weed and leave bare soil (and what a waste of resources / nutrients that can be) as nature is very quick to recover it. From now on I'm a complete mulch convert.

I tend to grow my plants in modules anyway and that suits a mulch system, as the plants have germinated and strengthened before being transplanted through the mulch.

I love what Charles says about how healthy plants generally suffer less from pests and diseases.
I also love his ideas for successional sowing - similar to Joy Larkcom - she has great ideas for creative vegetable gardening too.

There are a few things in Charle's book that I've had different experiences with e.g. rocket - luckily nobody told me not to sow it until after midsummer, so last year I had a great crop all summer - with no problems from flea beetle. Maybe the leaves did bolt slightly early - the the flowers are so pretty that I don't mind much.

Another great book that I got to read recently was Masanobu Fukuoka's 'The One-Straw Revolution' which looks at one mans journey of discovering natural farming techniques in Japan. It has a great feel to it - feels very wholesome to me.

So, thats my inspiration sorted for a while. Now all I need is my garden. It is challenging being over two hours away from 'my' garden, although I am lucky to have my aunts garden here, which is very natural and lush, and a few pots of things to keep my green fingers happy.

I must admit to getting itchy fingers and also longing to have my garden properly up and running. I want to see the seasons go by on my own plot, watching the successions of planting and harvests etc Patience must be a virtue I'm still cultivating!

Anyway, there is distraction here, for example a few experimental winter salads in pots in my aunts barn. They won't feed an army, but I like to see things grow .. and to see how much they WILL grow over winter.

Here are some late sown lettuces (sown end Sept / early Oct) which are coming along just fine.

My calendula was still blooming earlier this week (although now sulking after a couple of nights of hard frost).

I love these violas, which have self seeded in cracks at the edge of the bed near the front door.

Surprisingly, the tall shrubby Escallonia is still happily flowering away and has been for months now.

Of course, there are still a few roses too. They don't have much scent when picked, but when I dry the petals on the radiator the room is filled with a delicious lingering scent.

My aunt's ornamental pyracantha also gives great colour this time of year.

I love how it has crept over the wall, so we can see it from the house now.

The girls are doing fine also - and add bucket loads to winter cheer.

Here's Benny, patrolling the drive.

Here Anna and Esmie are having a great time rummaging through the leaves and undergrowth.

Here they are again, setting off from the doorstep out into a hard frosty morning.

Wonder if the frost will turn to snow soon?

It's trying to snow as I type.

Until next time ...


  1. For a great example of small scale no dig permaculture, check out Colette O'Neil's Permaculture blog post 'Compost and Roses'

  2. I read a book on no-till gardening a few years ago and thought it made a lot of sense. How silly we are digging up the dirt to expose the weed seed so it can germinate and force us into more work. Duh. :)

    Love your little pockets of color. I've got a few of my own that I'm relishing as winter looms.

    Take care.

  3. Hi Grace,

    I love the colour in your garden, it always looks great... always some eye candy there :-)


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