Book Review: Charles Dowding’s Vegetable Garden Diary

Charles Dowding’s Vegetable Garden Diary


I recently purchased this book and thought I’d share my thoughts on it.

Over the last few years I have purchased a few of Charles’ other Gardening titles, and  in line with his advice on how to set up raised beds easily I did just that and now successfully grow a wide variety of produce.

My biggest raised bed.
My biggest raised bed.

The Book

The book is intended as a manual of Gardening techniques filled with splendid illustrations and contains many pictures of Charles’ own garden and produce.

Big pictures and lots of information.
Big pictures and lots of information.

168 pages long, at least three-quarters of the book is Charles’ advice on how to grow great crops.

Although devised as a diary, it is in-fact a perpetual or any day dairy designed for you to add your own notes, comments and to  store your own information, for future reference.

Beautifully set out with space to write your own notes accompanied by lovely pictures relevant to the time of month.

The advice printed in the diary section is linked to each week of the year, some of the information included is when is the best time to sow, different tried sowing and planting methods, the advantages of no dig which results in less time needed, and how to control weeds by mulching.

Start of the seed sowing
Start of the seed sowing

The seed sowing starts in the Diary on Valentine’s day, and guides you through on what to sow right through to the week before Valentine’s day the next year, Charles also covers how to feed soil, for resulting  strong and healthy growth and more productivity, and the best times to harvest, including information on storing your produce.

This book has been designed as a gardening companion with seasonal pointers, the intention is that you can add your own notes alongside the advice given by Charles.

Ring bound for easy use.
wire bound for easy use.

The book is wire bound and the covers are laminated for easy use when out and about in the garden.

Sections covering everything you might ever need.
Sections covering everything you might ever need.

I’ve already read this book cover to cover twice and made notes along the way, and I’ve  set out my planned seed sowing regime for the coming Spring following Charles’ advice, and already started adding more mulch to my raised beds in order to get my no-dig adventure off the best start in 2017.

And through the pages of Charles book I’ve discovered the solution to my ponderings  on how to grow lots of onions close together in order to produce lots of pickled onion sized onions for my Pickling needs in 2017.

7 seeds sown close together give many smaller onions. perfect size for Pickling.
7 seeds sown close together give many smaller onions. perfect size for Pickling.

I’ve found this book easy to follow and beautifully set out, there is a large index containing everything I needed to know and I cannot wait o get sowing my seeds.

This is a great book for any beginner or the more experienced Gardener, and would be a great Christmas present for any Allotment Grower.

The Book is priced at £14.95 or Signed at £15.95 Direct from Charles who Self Published the book.

Order here

The book is also available from that other online bookshop, but I suggest you buy directly from Charles as he posts out very quickly.

For more information on Charles Dowding’s other Books, Courses, and the No-dig method visit his site here.


(Disclaimer, I do not, and have not gained in any way by reviewing this book)

Emergency Onions, Poo applied, The rise of the Evil Weevil. #gdnbloggers

In this part of the country we have managed at least 5 days of no rain, hard frosts each night yes…. but no rain.

I had a list of jobs that I really need to accomplish in the garden, and I had a list of jobs that came under the heading: Would be nice to get done, but don’t kill yourself.

I got some fence repairing done, forked over where my footprints were left in the border whilst fixing the fence, forked over the compacted soil around where I built my new greenhouse in my  Last update post.

After all the winter rain the edges of my borders have melded into the lawns so I set about redefining the edges.

Redefining the lawn edge.
Redefining the lawn edge.


That should help when edging the lawn after mowing.

I had a poke about in my older greenhouse at my Onion seedlings and I’m just not happy with them.

Now I have grown Onions from sets before, but I really quite like sowing seeds, last year I had an excellent crop of onions which I grew from seed sown over Christmas, they were so good in fact I had to dig them up in the summer to stop them getting any bigger, (I like a medium sized onion).

So late last year whilst perusing a seed sale at a Garden Centre I purchased some Red Onions seeds, these were sown on Boxing Day last Christmas, as I usually do, and nothing happened. For several weeks nothing happened, then just a few pathetic seedlings appeared, unfortunately that was it.

*Hmmm I thought, I’ve been sold rubbish seed.  So I placed an online order with a seed company to get some new, different Red Onions.

(*Crap I thought).


These too have proved to be a bit rubbish….  See below.

Onion seedlings looking a bit rubbish.
Onion seedlings looking a bit rubbish.

You see i’m going to run a tight ship this year, when one crop ends another is being planted into the same place a bit pronto, and I just can’t have slow onions holding up crops.

I made the decision to dash to a local nursery today and buy a few loose Red Onion sets in order to try and make up for lost growing time.

Now I know Onions are not rare, expensive or unusual, but I like it when if I fancy an onion I can pop into the garden and harvest one there and then.  So there.

20ish Red Onion sets.
20ish Red Onion sets.

I had a poke about in my shed to see what fertilizers I had that I could apply to my pending Onion bed, and I found a product I purchased early last year.

Rant Warning.

Expensive and Deceptive.
Expensive and Deceptive.

Vitax Organic Potato Fertilizer 1kg.

I paid roughly £6 for this box last year as I was growing Potatoes in sacks, however when I opened it I discovered it was mini pelleted Chicken poo.

Now, nowhere on the packaging is it stated what it’s made out of, surley if it comes out of a chicken’s bum then it should say so.  If I had known it was Chicken Poo Pellets then I would have just bought a big tub of Chicken Poo Pellets from the DIY store for half the price for 3 times the amount.

So please note: This product is expensive shit.


:Rant Over.

My late winter sown Broad Beans have enjoyed the sunshine that we had recently that i’ve had to stake each plant as they were starting to suffer with wind rock, with 15 short canes in place should mean that I get a decent crop later in the year.

Broad Beans at the stake.
Broad Beans at the stake.

Now the eagle eyed among you may have noticed a large white addition to the raised bed behind the beans, according to the non-gardening man of the household it’s a tent for Ronnie Corbett.

Or as I call it, a cheap fleece tent for when I plant out some early peas.

Although I admit I prefer the tent story.




Finally today I noticed my Strawberry plants that are growing in a wall planter were looking a little under the weather.

Strawberry plants do generally die back over the winter, but these looked…..odd.

I had some potted runners from last years plants and I intended to plant these into gaps in between the existing odd looking strawberries…………..


I tipped out the containers…..


And found my worst nightmare…….



Luckily only 1 Larvae..............or was it....?!?
Luckily only 1 Larvae…………..or was it….?!?

Horror of horrors….. Vine Weevil were eating the roots of my Strawberries, this is the reason why my plants looked *odd.



But only 1 Larvae, I could easily control 1 larvae.



But then I emptied another container…


This is terrible news, I last had Vine Weevil in my garden about 3 years ago, it infested my Fuchsia containers, I controlled it back then by dumping all my containers into a skip, and I’ve not planted up any containers until recently.

After that I was confident that Vine Weevil was no longer a problem, so that i’ve got arriving in the next few weeks 12 baby Fuchsia plants from a specialist nursery, and a box of plug plants for hanging baskets and other containers.

I am also planning to grow quite a bit of edible stuff in containers this year, so this infestation is terrible news….

I’ve got to work out how to control the current infestation and work out how i’m going to protect all my new containers throughout the coming year.  Sodding warm winters.!


To Be Continued……..




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