Book Review: The Complete Guide to No-Dig Gardening

Book Review: The Complete Guide to No-Dig Gardening

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We were provided with a review copy of The Complete Guide to No-Dig Gardening by Cool Springs Press / Quarto Publishing Group. We appreciate them sharing a copy so we could share with our readers.


The Homesteaders’ Book Club recently selected Charlie Nardozzi’s new book The Complete Guide to No-Dig Gardening as its spring read, and we were not disappointed. This book focuses on how to “grow beautiful vegetables, herbs, and flowers – the easy way” with no-dig gardening methods. Anything that tells me it will make my gardening methods easier is sure to capture my attention. If you are interested in starting a vegetable garden but don’t have access to a rototiller; if you want to garden in a way that aligns better with nature and builds on what nature has to offer; and if you want to garden in a way that makes your life easier – this book is a great addition to your library.

To tell the truth, we have been using no-dig gardening methods for a while, including the sheet mulch method for building a garden bed. This method allows you to build up your garden using layers rather than digging down or tilling. It creates more healthy soil and is also less back breaking than other methods. It is a central component in no-dig gardening and lays the foundation for a much easier vegetable growing experience. Despite the fact that this method was not new to us, Nardozzi’s book offered new information about why and how this method works, as well as how to maintain a sheet mulch garden over time.

Charlie Nardozzi is a legend here in Vermont – known locally for his gardening show on Vermont Public Radio. His reach has expanded around the world through his simple, straightforward books that help gardeners at any level to succeed. It is that “friendly neighborhood gardener” persona that comes through in this book, too. Charlie doesn’t alienate you with complicated scientific methods or tasks that seem too advanced. Instead, he welcomes the reader with easy-to-understand explanations and methods.

As an example, Charlie’s explanation of soil types is accompanied by a menu of at-home options for testing your soil. The evaluation is all about how soil looks and behaves rather than how it measures on a pH stick, which can feel much more accessible to home gardeners (though he also covers pH questions for those who are curious, and mentions that your pH will likely stay where it needs to be thanks to this method). Likewise, Charlie encourages readers to obtain organic materials for their garden creatively – which can help with cost savings and make creating a no-dig garden feel more do-able.

a no dig garden bed with a layer of compost
We used the sheet mulch method to build garden beds 3 years ago. Now we just top with compost and mulch with grass each year when planting.

As an added bonus to the narrative content, the book is full of helpful photos, illustrations, charts, and tables. This makes it an easy reference if you just want to pick it up to check on something part-way through your process or the following year. It is a compact guide that gets to the point rather than being overwhelmingly long. As busy homesteaders, we really appreciate efficiency in our books and this one meets that standard.

Beyond the typical no-dig garden, Charlie also offers advice for alternatives or variations on the no-dig method – like straw bale and container gardening – providing options for almost any gardener.

In short, The Complete Guide to No-Dig Gardening makes the process easy to follow, affordable, and accessible. This is what we are looking for in gardening books to add to our collection. As such, we highly recommend this book for your shelf. The guide is especially useful for home gardeners who are starting or expanding a vegetable garden, or want to transition their garden to the no-dig method.

Once you go no-dig, you’ll never go back!

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Carrie Williams Howe
Blogger & Homesteader at The Happy Hive
Carrie Williams Howe is an educational leader by day and an aspiring homesteader by night and weekend. She lives on a small homestead in Vermont with her husband, two children, and a rambunctious border collie. She is a Founder and Editor of Homestead How-To and also blogs about her family's homestead life at The Happy Hive.


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