Greetings from Chicagoland!


Hello everyone,

I live in the Chicago suburbs (for now); Zone 5. I've loved gardening and growing things since I was a teen but never understood much beyond putting plants in the ground and watering them. I recently stumbled upon Charles Dowding's No-Dig videos on Youtube and am interested in experimenting with his methods. I'm still a beginner in my level of growing knowledge but enjoy the process of learning and implementing new things....seeing what fruits come of them.

I've grown a small garden 6' x 11'+ (in ground/not raised) for several years and had moderate success growing things like tomatoes, herbs, jalapeno peppers, lettuces, squash, zucchini, pumpkins, perennial flowers, etc..

I've since added another bed of the same size as my original. I'd like to produce as much of our food on our as as possible with limited ground space that receives direct sun. Eventually we plan to move to a property in a different state with fertile land and more open space to grow. We are seeking a life of greater self sufficiency.

I look so forward to getting to know you guys! I'm excited to share my successes and failures along the journey.


Mary Playford

Valued Member
Premium Member

Welcome to the group.

I love Charles Dowding's 'no dig' method, it works great. It's that simple, just follow his easy steps and you have a garden going. He did say for a while any weeds you see come up just add more cardboard until you have a handle on it. I'm doing a few 'no dig' beds this year because I'm lazy LOL


Hi Mary,

I've never tried his method before and hope I can. As young as I am (30's) , I have health issues that make physical exertion an issue quite often. No-dig feels like a better fit for that reason.

My biggest hurdle this moment (and the one stopping me from even moving forward with planting yet this year) is that I don't have access to compost. In my neighborhood we do not have the space to compost our own materials, so neighbors call our village and complain if anyone ever tries to compost. I've never composted in my life because I've never had the opportunity where I live.

My problem now is that our local stores do not sell any form of "general purpose compost". When I call around they say they have mushroom compost, that's it. What do we do if we cannot purchase pre-bagged organic compost, and we cannot make our own? I certainly cannot afford to ship in bags of compost from online (they're a fortune and I don't even know what to use). I seem to be going in circles online looking for the answers and I just don't find them.

At this point I wonder if I can just mix store-bough options together. I have no idea where to begin; our options are bagged mushroom compost, bagged cow manure, bagged garden soil from a variety of brands like Miracle Grow, humus, top soil,etc.. there is literally no "compost" available.

Any advice would be very deeply appreciated by this newb.

Thanks! ^_^
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