How to grow using no dig methods veganically, also known as “stock free”, without animal manures or other animal derived inputs.

The Vegan Organic Network asked me to write article about plant based no dig gardening for their magazine Growing Green International. I was delighted to do so.

There’s a bit of a myth that you *have* to include animal manures in composts in order to grow good vegetables. I hear this so often and it simply isn’t the case. Indeed, most home growers are using veganic methods, without even realising it.

Of course all healthy gardens have animals and wild creatures as part of the whole ecosystem – that’s something we no dig gardeners whatever our composts actively encourage. This way of growing is not about excluding animals or soil life, but not using manures from farming and products such as fish, blood and bone. Obviously all healthy soils and composts have animal remains and poo in them, whether it is worm poo or the poo from a passing hedgehog.

Exploring ways of making plant based composts is so useful for all home gardeners and allotmenteers, especially those growing on smaller scales, because for many people composting food waste or accessing bulk animal manures can be difficult. So this article is for everyone, whatever you chose to eat.

The article is featured in Growing Green International, which you can read about and subscribe to here.

This is the first time I have read the whole of the mag, which contains interesting articles including features about bees, an off grid new farm and recipes. It’s an upbeat non-judgemental magazine.

If you’d like to read more about stock free farming, visit Iain Tollhurst’s website.

I visited Vegfest 2019 on Saturday in London and met with members of the Vegan Organic Network. I’m rushed off my feet at the moment with getting the garden planting finished for the autumn (thanks endless torrential rain…..) but hope to write a blog post about this event soon.

Regular readers will know that I use all kinds of composts in my gardens, including some composted manure from a local farmer and that although I mainly eat a plant based diet and write plant based recipes, I am not 100% vegan.

The article is reproduced here with permission from Growing Green International. Click on the images to enlarge.




  1. Favourite line from this post ” the poo from a passing hedgehog.” I love the whole concept of this.
    Maybe I need to get out more. LOL 🙂

      1. My garden has this problem that we are surrounded by high brick walls, very little soil and Tesco car park behind us. No where a hedgehog could pass through 🙂 X

      2. So you need the poo from a hedgehog with some kind of flying device – a little hedgehog jet pack, perhaps. May be a whole family of them, jetting in from Tesco car park for a snuffle about, munch on the odd worm, a poo here and there and then flying off, into the world beyond your wall.

    1. Thank you.

      My friend Adam Wood grows an amazing repertoire of mushrooms using straw and other plant based materials.

      I’m no expert, my experience is more smaller scale but yes it is possible using straw, wood chip and coffee grounds.

  2. Great write-up Steph, we’ve stopped using farmyard or any animal based manures mainly because of possible contamination of herbicides. All our compost making uses only green waste from known sources, we haven’t bought fertilizers of any description for years and the results couldn’t be better,

  3. I grow Veganically on my allotment (first year) and at home and my allotment is doing so much better than I ever imagined. I had a few confused allotmenteers when I started but I think they’re slowly converting to no dig. I’m so pleased to see more people adopting the no dig veganic methods also 😌
    Brilliant article, thank you!

    1. Thank you so much, Roxy. My plot has been no dig for 11 years now and I still get some strange looks 🙂

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