Growth differences in three strips of different soil treatment, year five, by Charles Dowding

Jeremie Litzler
  • Permaculture
  • Gardening
  • Charles Dowding
  • No Dig
  • Compost
About 2 min

I took notes about the trial at a later stage in an earlier article about the same three-strip trial, which started in 2014.

Aerial view of Homeacre garden with the title of the vlog
Credits: image taken from Charles Dowding’s vlog

Thanks to Charles Dowding for sharing his wisdom and knowledge! I wrote the following notes watching the video published on Charles Dowding’s channel. You can watch it using this YouTube linkopen in new window.

They shot the vlog on the 8th of September 2019. So this is the 6th year of doing this comparison.

Charles says it’s a trial, but you could call it an experiment, but it’s not a scientific experiment as such.

It’s comparing things.

The strip One and Two setup

Strip One

Charles puts a fork in the ground and levers it to loosen the soil, e.g., broad forking.

And the idea being to just see what difference that it makes to growth compared to no dig.

Strip Two

It’s a No Dig strip with the same compost as strip One.

Strip Three

It’s a No Dig strip with the well-rotted cow manure.

Soil and amendment composition

The first two strips have the same amount of compost put on at the same time.

Charles uses mushroom compost and green waste compost on strips One and Two.

What Charles cultivated

The same plants are planted at the same time in each of the strips.

In the winter and spring months, the strips have:

  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes
  • Broad beans
  • Winter squash
  • Winter salad

In the summer and autumn months, the strips have:

  • Kale
  • Chicory
  • Leeks
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Climbing beans

The goal

Charles wanted to compare what effect does that forking, if any, have on growth over the first five years.

Observations after five years between strip One and strip Two

The 3-strip trial on April 21st of 2019
Credits: image taken from Charles Dowding’s vlog

They observed a 5% production different consistently over the five years, especially in the summer.

Observations after five years between strip Two and strip Three

The crops look bigger on strip Three, but pest damage offset the harvest yields.

Indeed, slugs attack the plants, but not always.

Also, Charles weights the harvest but discarding the outer leaves and anything that you wouldn’t eat or sell.

And he observed that strip Three produced more waste over time.

In the end, the strip Two is the best strip.