April update

Two very exciting things are happening today (Friday 21st April). Our book, No Dig Organic Home & Garden has arrived at the publishers! It will be with us in Somerset on Monday; Charles and I are very much looking forward to seeing the book. We’ll have a lot of signing and packaging of the pre-orders to do 🙂

Also, this evening Charles is being featured on Gardeners World – even Monty’s dog Nigel has been Tweeting about this (he might have got no dig a bit confused…!)

The crew filmed for a day on August 10th 2016. It was fascinating watching the process. A whole day’s filming has been condensed into a feature of around 6 minutes. Charles’ son Ed is on the left of the first photograph below – he makes most of Charles’ popular You Tube videos.

Tonight the programme will also include footage of Charles with Geoff Hamilton back in the 1980s, when a whole episode of Gardeners World was filmed from his then garden, an 8 acre organic no dig market garden.

Neither Charles nor myself have a television, so we have arranged to visit friends in his village to watch the programme. I wonder what people new to the idea of no dig gardening will think of Charles’ gorgeous garden? I’m sure it will encourage them to explore this lovely way of growing abundant vegetables whilst caring for the soil and nature.

We found out yesterday that Charles has also been nominated for Best Organic Innovator in the Soil Association BOOM awards – he is on a bit of a roll at the moment!!

Meanwhile, I’ve been busy in my home garden and allotment – sowing, pricking out, potting on, planting. It has been a very dry spring, so new plantings are requiring more hand watering than usual. In my greenhouse I have two heated benches: one is made from two heat mats and the other is made from a soil warming cable buried in sand on a bench. All have thermostat controls and I also use thermometers to check the heat of the compost. The rest of the greenhouse is unheated. Other warmth sensitive seeds are germinated in smaller lidded heated propagators in my house, on window sills. They go out onto the heat mats when I pot them on.

I’ve been loving the abundance in my polytunnel – the cabbages and kale in particular are so delicious and fresh and the early carrots add an extra exciting flavour to meals. Gradually these plants are being eaten and cleared and the ground mulched in readiness for the summer plantings, including some experimental early dwarf French beans which will be planted in the polytunnel this weekend – just as the temperatures are set to drop! I am ready with fleece and bubblewrap to protect them and will also be keeping an eye on the extra early polytunnel potatoes (Swift and Rocket), protecting if the temperatures really do go as low as the forecast suggests. All the other potatoes are in beds in the front and back garden.

The coriander is flowering, more food for the bees and other insects and soon a delicious crop of green coriander seed. I write regular updates about my garden, allotment and work garden on my blog, NoDigHome.

Charles and I spend Wednesday mulching my front garden beds with manure from the allotment up the road. Charles has a trailer, which is much more convenient than putting it in sacks and into the back of my very small car! It was still a lot of hard work, especially for Charles who had the job of heaving the wheelbarrow up the 5 steps to my front garden. The osteoarthritis in my hands means that my ability to heave heavy wheelbarrows up steps has diminished somewhat, so I was especially appreciative of this help.

These beds are on top of horrible soil full of builder’s rubble and goodness knows what else from the 1970s, which is why I decided to use wooden sided raised beds here – it makes a much better growing area for vegetables, even if it does increase habitat for slugs and snails….These were all hiding next to the timber of the middle bed, where the flowers in the side area had grown up against the wood, creating ideal snail habitat.

Half of the middle bed had already been mulched with some of Charles’ mushroom compost because I wanted to sow carrots there a week or so ago, so we spread the composted manure over everywhere else. The bed nearest the road already has second early potatoes and some overwintered spring onions in it: the potatoes will appreciate the lovely mulch, which I can also use to earth them up as they grow.

I’ll be planting some brassicas in the bed nearest to the house over the weekend; haven’t yet decided what will go in the other half of the carrot bed. Possibly a catch crop of radish and then beans or courgettes, when the danger of frost has passed in May.

There’s so much to choose from in the garden and larder – these dishes were made last week from freshly picked or home stored vegetables and fruit. (Except the bread!)

I had a great time visiting the RHS Cardiff show on April 8th. Charles gave a standing room only talk about no dig gardening and I had the opportunity to catch up with my daughter who is studying for an MSc at Cardiff university. It is a wonderful city and this event is one of the nicest RHS shows I’ve been to. As you can see, I loved the colours of the tulips!

Upcoming events include:

Charles and I will be signing copies of our new book, demonstrating some homemade potions and giving tours of the kitchen garden at Roth Bar and Grill, Hauser and Wirth, Bruton on May 1st. We’ll also have some plants for sale for your own allotment or garden.

And on May 7th, we’ll be launching the book and giving talks at the South Downs Green Fair.

We’ll be at the River Cottage Spring Food Fair, giving talks on no dig gardening (Charles) and growing edible flowers (me).

I’m speaking at the South West Permaculture Convergence on June 10th

Charles’ garden at Homeacres is open as part of the Alhampton Open Gardens on June 18th

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