No Dig Organic Home & Garden
Reviewed By Lorenzo Costa
Organic Home & Garden: Grow, Cook, Use, and Store Your Harvest
By Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty
Size: 8.75 X 10.8
Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty are today’s best examples of no-dig gardening at a backyard or small farm level. I consider No Dig Organic Home & Garden: Grow, Cook, Use, and Store Your Harvest the defining book of no-dig gardening.
This informative book takes the reader from setting up a no-dig garden, to harvesting, preserving, cooking, and much more. Charles and Stephanie have shared their 30 years of personal gardening experience. Charles, as a no-dig expert, has worked extensively in the UK and France with different soils, always with great results. Stephanie has her own faceted story. Being passionate about cooking and gardening, she has worked for years as a kitchen gardener for various restaurants, setting up their gardens to supply them year-round with fresh vegetables. She cooks what she grows and makes tinctures and potions from her harvests.
The profound knowledge shared in the book is based on an 8/9 climate zone, but the advice they share is fully adaptable to other climates, because ultimately the reader will learn to understand climate and soil, and work in context.
The authors’ commitment to sharing their experience and practice has led them to be incredibly effective in taking photos of their work, and documenting with precision, creating a masterpiece of effectiveness. The reader will take a journey through 20 chapters that start from preparing the plot, to sowing and spacing, plus learning how to reduce water consumption effectively, deal with pests, grow in longer seasons, and make potions from the harvests. Readers will move on to compost making, saving seeds, harvesting, preserving, and of course, some tasty recipes. Another section is made of seven chapters that divide what to grow in groups. The plants included are ones that repay the gardener incredibly in proportion to the care they need. The last chapter is on trading and selling the garden’s yield. Homeacres, Charles and Stephanie’s house and garden, is a half-acre profitable business, showcasing a great example of how to make money off little land.
The pages are full of tables that share information on different solutions any gardener can implement. For example, what sort of row cover shall we choose for our garden? A specific table will help choose, keeping an eye on cost, life durability, and effectiveness. Practical boxed tips are dispersed numerously throughout the book, and all the plants have a well-defined data sheet, with all sorts of information, possible yields, propagation, etc.
For the first time, Charles and Stephanie have brought together their writing and gardening skills, and the final result is great. Charles has more than seven books published, as well as numerous articles. She has been writing for years in magazines. The reader learns from this book how gardening can bring people together; couples, families, communities, and more.
If you want to start simple and build confidence in gardening, this is a great book to choose. Or, if you are an experienced “dirty-hand,” this is still the book you should choose, as you will be surprised of how much you can still learn. This book is much more than the average gardening book; it is a treasure of information, and a complete guide to fertility and healthiness, from soil to body, made clear through real-life experience.
Lorenzo Costa lives in Italy. He is a permaculture practitioner, future farmer, and book geek.