Charles Dowding is an innovator of no dig, organic growing since 1983, who has built up a large and dedicated following on YouTube, where he presents videos teaching practical skills. His weed-free methods are about growing more easily, in less time, by understanding and working with natural processes.
An established author of books for adult gardeners, No-Dig Children’s Gardening Book is Charles's first book for children and families. Charles also writes for national and international magazines and appears on tv and radio including BBC Gardeners' World. He sells produce and teaches courses from his vegetable garden in Somerset, where he lives.
No-Dig Children's Gardening Book (Welbeck)
Charles Dowding's innovative guide to gardening for children takes away the need for heavy digging and hands children the power to create their own gorgeous and useful garden, with minimal fuss and lots of fun. We asked Charles to tell us more about his first gardening book for children, No-Dig Children's Gardening Book.
Q&A with Charlies Dowding
1. Can you tell us a bit about your own love of gardening and how you became a gardener?
I was helping my mother to plant trees when 19 years old, and something just clicked, I knew this was where I felt at home.
2. What is your new book, No-Dig Children's Gardening Book, about - is there really no digging involved?
It depends! Normally not, unless there is some ground to level for example. You simply cover weeds with any light excluding material, often cardboard and compost and plant straight away.
3. How did you make all these discoveries about not digging, planting certain vegetables together, etc?
Through curiosity, and feeling there must be easier, simpler and more natural ways to do a lot of gardening jobs which had been made onerous and complicated. The more I discovered, the more I wanted to learn and share.
4. Why did you want to write this book for younger gardeners?
I've always found children receptive to these methods, and noticed how they love the simplicity of it, and the easy maintenance of any no-dig garden. It felt logical to reach out with a book, these children are the future.
5. How is your book organised?
I explain why no-dig works so well, how to implement it in your space and I encourage starting with just one small bed. Start small is always good! Then I give timings and methods for sowing and growing vegetables through the year. How to make compost. And then lots of projects in the garden. Plus, some examples of families and a school who have benefited from doing this.
6. Why have you included some gardening experiments in it?
To excite curiosity. Or one might say, to be curiously excited! Get those emotions, moving a little and make strong connections, more than just learning from me.
7. Is this book also useful for those who only have small garden areas?
Oh very much so, that's the idea really. These methods are highly effective in small spaces and enable any gardener to grow far more food and flowers than they thought possible.
8. The pages have a lovely scrapbook feel to them - what did you think when you saw the finished book with illustrations by Kristyna Litten?
She is a genius, and I was amazed how the book looks. My simple words are brought to life, thank you Kristyna.
9. How would you like to see schools and homes using the No-Dig Children's Gardening Book?
Start by making one small bed, make a small compost heap, try an experiment which I suggest, sow a few seeds such as sunflowers and peas and potatoes. Above all, have fun doing it and be willing to try.
10. Do you have any more gardening books for children planned?
More about Charles Dowding:
i. What kinds of plants do you most enjoy growing?
All of them for their beauty, food and fragrance. Different ones in the 4 different seasons.
ii. What are your favourite gardening projects?
Experimenting with different aspects of no-dig and making compost in different ways.
iii. What's the best thing you've ever grown, or what you consider to be your key achievement in gardening?
I've been growing a lot of plants and selling a lot of food for 40 years, but my greatest achievement is finding the ability to communicate that to a huge and growing audience, enabling them to be more healthy and connected to soil and their food