Simplifying the rules – easier ways to a successful vegetable and fruit garden with Charles Dowding

Gardening lectures and talks

Ref: SGL11431

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About this course

Charles explains his no-dig style of gardening, composting, sowing at the best time, and how to achieve healthy plants. He will also share how to grow salad leaves all year, succession planting and winter vegetables.

Course Description

Discover no dig success in this Garden Lecture, for easier gardening with simpler soil preparation, less weeding, quicker planting and harvesting.

1. Save time with quicker and more productive methods

A look at many misunderstandings which have a common theme: they waste the gardener’s time, especially digging and other unnecessary soil cultivations.

Charles explains how these misunderstandings have arisen and illustrates quicker ways to achieve the desired result of healthy, happy plants, which includes sowing vegetable seeds at the best and most efficient dates.

2. Salad leaves all year

How to grow and pick large and repeat harvests from a small area, even in winter.

Exploring the wonderful range of plants to grow for salad leaves. Charles emphasises two ways above all of increasing harvests:

- Sow the right plant for each different season, for example sow salad rocket in August not April.

- Give plants sufficient space so that outer leaves can be picked over a long period. This also reduces slugs and disease.

There will be lots of illustrations to demonstrate these points, with an explanation of the benefits of no dig and compost mulches.

3 Succession planting and winter vegetables

Food in winter and filling the hungry gap too, both from fresh harvests and from stored veg, with Charles’ tips on easier ways to store harvests.

A look at garlic, onions, potato, parsnip, leeks and brassicas as well as salads, broad beans, spring onion and cabbage for the hungry gap.

Charles covers the value of good soil preparation, without digging, of making and using compost, and of sowing at the best time, especially after midsummer when shortening days mean that you reap rewards from adhering to precise sowing dates.

Please note, this course will take place in The Old Library at West Dean College, so please use the College car park.


Timetable for Garden Lectures

Students should arrive by 9.30am for registration.

Classes are from 10am - 3pm.

Lunch is included.

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Please wear/bring suitable outdoor clothing if you wish to visit West Dean Gardens. You may find it useful to bring a notebook and pencil.
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals. You may need safety boots, if specified above.


Charles Dowding

Charles graduated from Cambridge in 1980 and then started an organic, no dig market garden. He is self-taught and learns from observation at home and abroad and is trialling new methods all the time. He teaches, writes and grows vegetables for sale, has seven books published and seven films on his Youtube channel.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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