It’s our annual open day at Charles Dowding’s no dig market garden Homeacres on Sunday September 1st, where he grows over £22,000 of veg in only 1/4 acre of no dig beds. Here are some photos of his abundant plot, showing the beauty of a productive edible garden.
The Open Day is from 11 – 4:30 – more information on Charles’ website here. Charles and I will both be there, along with at my children and some friends, chatting with visitors and selling our books and Charles’ 2020 calendar, hot off the press.
Parking is in a field a few minutes’ walk down the lane. Please don’t park in the lane itself: there are working farms and stables and large vehicles need access. All info is on Charles’ website. Children and dogs on leads very welcome. It is a working garden so parents do keep an eye on your little ones – there are uneven surfaces, sticks, and all the kinds of hazards one would expect from a market garden. It isn’t a good place to run around, but there is an adjacent green lane.
Visitors with less mobility, you can be dropped off at the garden rather than using the field car park. Do get in touch if you need closer parking. The garden is almost entirely accessible by wheelchair but the compost paths between the beds aren’t wide enough – you will be able to see everything though. The house loo is accessible for those who can walk a few steps – the house really is very small – and the village pub loo nearby has level disabled access.
A photographic tour of the garden, mostly taken last week!
Homeacres is 3/4 acre of garden including the driveway and small house. There are some concrete paths left over from when the garden was a lot larger in the 1960s (it then included the field behind) and was run as a dahlia nursery, including many glass houses. Charles didn’t know this when he moved there almost 7 years ago – what a surprise. During that first winter, deciding where the polytunnel and greenhouse should go, we had to jab the ground with a metal pole to detect concrete underneath some of the grassy areas.
The whole site was knee high and above with weeds including bindweed, couch, creeping buttercup, thistles, nettles, dandelions and clover. The weeds are still present in the grass areas. They may look like a regular lawn but even regularly mowed, on close inspection they are richly diverse with all kinds of “weeds”, providing useful greens for the compost heap, flowers for insects and seeds for foraging birds. When the dandelions and clovers are in seed, flocks of finches come to feed. Bees forage from early spring until late autumn.
1/4 of an acre is cropped intensively and naturally producing vegetables year round for home and for sale locally. Most are sold within 5 miles in Bruton, which is where I live.
This is one of the most regularly featured views of the garden, taken across the main growing area towards the house.
To obtain this viewpoint I had to stand on a step ladder, not quite at the top as I get vertigo. Charles however is happy to stand right on the top of the ladder to get the right shot – here he is, taking some sunrise photos too.
As you can see, it isn’t a very high ladder!
Late August/early September is such an interesting time in the garden. Summer crops are incredibly productive, salads are lush, squashes ripening and winter crops – brassicas, parsnips, leeks – are growing sturdily. August sowings (see this blog) are planted out when ready and it is almost time for the main sowing for winter harvests, around September 11-13.
Hope you enjoy the tour. I have captioned the photos to explain what is happening in them.
A box of seasonal vegetables and fruit
The main garden beds
Compost bays and compost heaps
Beds behind the compost bays, perennial beds
Packing shed and small garden
Flowers including the Homeacres Rose
This was a spindly thing growing up against a fence that we removed when Charles moved here. It was put safely in a pot and when Charles created his first flower border, was planted and bloomed into a gorgeous rose!