The Vegetable Garden Diary – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Vegetable Garden Diary
Wire bound for easy use
Self-published by the author’s imprint No Dig Garden
168 pages illustrated with photographs mostly of Homeacres garden
The cover is laminated both sides for greater longevity and to prevent curling

CharlesDowdingsVegetableGardenDiaryCharles Dowding has just brought out a diary specifically for vegetable gardeners. It summarizes his long experience in nuggets of advice for each week of the growing season, starting on Valentine's day. Why does it start on Valentine's Day? Well, you love your garden, don't you.

The 168 pages are three quarters information on seasonal sowings, weeding, picking and storing, and one quarter diary space for the gardener to write notes, day by day. The format is perpetual diary, spiral bound for ease of use, double laminate cover all for £14.95, published by No Dig Garden Available at, in bookshops and on Amazon.

It is a gardening journal with a perpetual diary, a manual of gardening to inform and inspire, packed with illustrations,all rolled into one, with an introduction by Darina Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Three quarters of the book offer advice on how to grow great crops, one quarter of the book writing space for each day. You can use it year after year to make the best decisions, with your notes alongside the author's suggestions, for future reference. If you want it year after year for a diary it might be good to use a pencil instead of a permanent pen, though.

Advice in the diary section is linked to each week of the season and takes you through the whole process, from clearing weeds without digging, feeding soil and sowing to harvests and storing vegetables.

The emphasis is on saving time by gardening more efficiently, in tune with natural processes. Charles shows how healthy his crops are, from untilled soil, and how few weeds there are. Less water is needed too.

Charles is a pioneer of organic and no dig growing, and of growing/picking/marketing salad leaves. He has created and cropped four no dig, organic market gardens since 1983, on stony, silt and clay soils. His growing methods are as applicable in small areas as in large ones. Currently he crops an intensive quarter-acre in Somerset, SW England, for local sales of salad leaves and vegetables. He has written eight books, runs a busy You Tube channel, appears on BBC gardening programs and teaches extensively at home and abroad.

This is a really useful book (and diary, obviously) for anyone intending to grow their own vegetables, whether beginner or more experienced. Charles' do dig method will make life so much easier for gardeners many who seem to believe that soil needs to be turned over at least once a year if not more often even. This diary will, no doubt, for myself and others, become the ‘go to’ book for what one should be doing each week, rather than thumbing through 2 or 3 others.

© 2017