Review: No Dig: Nurture your soil

In the Introduction to his latest book, “No Dig: Nurture your soil to grow better veg with less effort”, Charles Dowding gives us the ultimate guide to organic no dig gardening. Sharing his 40 years’ experience of using the no dig gardening system, he ‘spills the beans’ on how to work in harmony with your soil for healthy plants and bumper crops.

Charles has been described by Monty Don as the guru of ‘no dig’ gardening and he is certainly one of the world’s leading experts. As Charles explains in the Introduction, ‘… simple is best and taking easier approaches that work well is clever rather than lazy.’ By stopping digging and many other labour-intensive gardening jobs, he has been able to show that no dig is a highly practical, effective and achievable gardening method.

The book is filled with practical advice and decades of experience so through every page we share Charles’s great passions of how to use the no dig technique to achieve healthy soil and easy weeding. Growing vegetables all year round and achieving bumper harvests of healthier crops are the successful outcomes he achieves with his method.

Basically, the less you dig the more you preserve soil structure and nurture the web of natural organisms that enable plants to grow strong and healthy, in a weed-free environment. As he says: “I wrote this book to show you that no dig is a highly practical, effective, achievable and economical alternative to gardening methods involving soil cultivation.”

This is the latest in a long line of expertly written books by Charles and one I think is certainly set to be a definitive text. It is clearly illustrated and easy to follow and covers all you need to know about soil, deciding what to grow, planning and making compost. You will also find chapters on the Principles of Growing Vegetables and there is a valuable Vegetable and Herb Directory.

The step-by-step photography by Jonathan Buckley has been taken at Charles’s beautiful market garden in Somerset and we follow him through the book as he explains how to start a no dig bed, together with clear instructions on how to sow, grow, harvest and store.

As Charles (pictured right) points out, no dig saves time and allows gardeners to enjoy themselves more: “A simple annual mulch of compost improves soil fertility, its ability to hold carbon, and feeds the soil ecology, for a healthy balance between pests and predators. Best of all, this practical approach promotes robust growth of both vegetables and flowers, enabling you to grow a large harvest of super-healthy food in a beautiful, sustainable garden, with few weeds and pests,” he said.

He has a very informative website and a global following on social media with currently over 550,000 YouTube video subscribers and over 55 million views since he started his channel. You can find out more about no dig as well as an abundance of good advice and tips by visiting

“No Dig: Nurture your soil to grow better veg with less effort” by Charles Dowding, is published in hardback by DK Books at £30.00.

A review copy of this book was kindly supplied by the publisher.

Picture credit: Image of Charles credit Jonathan Buckley.