5 Awesome Growing Tips from Market Gardener Charles Dowding
If you aren’t familiar with Charles Dowding, it’s time to get acquainted. He’s a soft-spoken British market gardener and author whose YouTube videos are chock full of growing methods that help him increase yields, save space or make his garden easier to manage. His long, informative videos take you through the processes step by step, and he does a great job explaining his reasoning along the way. His gardening wisdom is something to behold and gardeners old and new can all learn a thing or two from this master gardener. Here are five growing tips you’re sure to love.
No Dig Gardening
While Mr. Dowding is certainly not the inventor of this method, you can’t watch his videos without hearing him wax poetic about it’s many benefits to both the garden and the gardener. Here’s how it works: instead of tilling up a big plot to plant on, building on top of the existing soil with a combination of rich compost and other amendments. Plants or seeds are sown directly into the compost material. Charles finds that this method successfully surpasses weeds because the rich material hides them from sunlight, encourages fungi at the top of the soil structure and the lack of disturbing the soil doesn’t allow weed seeds to surface later on.
As you can imagine, this method makes life for gardeners much easier with less seeds, less backbreaking work and better yields.
When you think of growing something like beets, you probably imagine a long row of beets one after the other. This method is fine, but Charles uses a method called “multi sowing” which drastically increases the number of individual plants which can be grown in the same space. With this method, instead of growing the plants one by one, they’re planted in a small clump of 4-5 plants depending on the variety.
In the end, the result is 4-5 beets all growing in a clump together with far less space utilized. Charles claims you can get far more pounds of vegetables in the same amount of land using this method, even if the individual vegetables are smaller. This is extremely beneficial if you’re a small scale market gardener—or a home gardener with limited growing space.
Pricking Out Seedlings
When sowing seeds indoors, it can become tedious putting tiny seeds of plants like celery into individual cells. Furthermore, adding extra seeds per cell that end up being culled later is a waste of perfectly good seed. When it comes to tiny seeds, Dowding has a clever approach. He sprinkles seeds into a small container with compost and allows them to germinate. Once they’ve got their first leaves, he now has something easier to work with. He uses the method of pricking out in which he uses a small poker to gently pry the little seedlings out of the soil and then buries them individually into their new cell homes.
This makes it far easier than individually planting tiny little seeds and provides great results. He also says this method is great for seedlings who have gotten leggy. Simply prick them out of the soil and then bury them deeper to give them more strength and vigor for growth.
String Under Roots
This was designed for use in greenhouses, but can be used outside as well. When planting tall growing plants that need support like tomatoes, Dowding recommends putting in a tall stake at the end of each row with a string between both. To this, he ties string along the row which is buried beneath where he plants. This way, the roots hold the strong support in place, while the plant has something to hold onto as it grows tall. This method is great because it saves quite a bit of time, energy and resources by taking away unnecessary additional stakes and string, while proving a support structure for greater yields and happier plants.
Compost In The Greenhouse
When winter comes, greenhouses must rely on the sun to maintain a proper temperature and in some clients this becomes a difficult task as the warmth is quickly replaced once the sun goes down for the evening. Dowding recommends a well managed compost heap inside of your greenhouse to help maintain warmer temperatures even in a cold climate. Once spring nears, he then uses the compost heap as a warmer plate for seedlings to help germinate. It’s a simple solution with several valuable, energy saving benefits.
There are countless master gardeners with mountains of insight and wisdom on how to make your garden as easy and as productive as possible and Dowding is one of them. You’ll love his soothing voice, careful instruction and abundant wisdom as he shows you how to grow more, in less space, with less work.