With Charles Dowding
December 14th and 15th 2013
Charles takes you through:
Day one, the costs and benefits of creating an undug growing space
1 setting up an area for market growing: how big, how quickly, mulching inputs
2 maintaining productive soil without cultivation
3 time needed proportionate to possible costs and returns, depending on local market
Day two, details of growing
5 finer points of producing salad leaves, currently the only profitable crop for smaller growers
6 growing in tunnels
Background to this course
Charles started commercial growing in 1982 on an acre and a half of Cotswold brash soil. Pasture was tractor-rotovated than shaped into beds and undug thereafter. By 1987 he was cropping seven acres with four apprentices in season. He became well know for abundant harvests and few weeds.
From 1992 in southwest France he ran a half acre, undug garden on white clay for five years, supplying the local market.
Back in Somerset he established another garden on clay soil, mulched and undug, supplying salad and vegetables to local shops and restaurants from 2003, off an acre of undug beds, with output close to £30,000 in 2011 and 2012.
In 2013 he has created a new and smaller ⅓ acre garden on weedy pasture, of clay soil again, for salad and a few vegetable boxes, with many experiments and trials in the garden too, comparing dig/ no dig and compost/ no compost, among other things.
He runs day courses and monthly mentoring courses at this garden, and courses at other locations too.
Benefits for growers are less weeds, access to ground in all weathers, better moisture retention and healthier plants.
Best results are from an approximate two inch surface layer of compost to give higher output from a smaller area.
Compost can be anything from green waste, mushroom compost, your own, to year old or older animal manure.
The setting up stage may include cultivations: each site and situation is different, I can advise on that. The first year can be difficult if you are used to cultivating soil.
For teaching I use my market/experimenting garden at Homeacres, and slides of my previous garden.
Over the last eleven years my main output has been bags of mixed salad leaves which are top sellers and can provide a sound economic base for growing, so I give plenty of tips on achieving that.
Two days, from 10am to 5pm Saturday, and 9am to 3.15 pm Sunday.
Accommodation on Saturday night can be at Homeacres in your own sleeping bag for free, or you could book into a local b&b.
Food and refreshments are included by day, and cooking facilities throughout: lunch is soup, bread and salads, while supper and breakfast are self catering.
Cost is £190.
To book: firstname.lastname@example.org
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