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  • Writer's pictureToni Kenyon

My Top 5 no-dig garden mentors

How many of these amazing people do you know? These are the people who have influenced the way that I garden, they have changed my life and for that I owe them a debt of gratitude.

They are my "virtual mentors".

They may not know that they are my mentors, but they are educators and they have taught me so much about the way I want to live my life and how to create the kind of garden (and world) I want to live in.

I hope that by end of this post, you'll discover that you too can grow your own fabulous, healthy food without breaking your back (or the bank!) and bonus, you'll be helping the planet too by using no-dig garden methods.

I hope you'll realise too, that there's so much more to gardening. Gardening not only nourishes my body, keeps it exercised, but it also nourishes my soul and helps me to connect with my spiritual life.

Many of these people do more than garden and educate. Their gardens are an extension of their outlook on life. Their gardens are much more than just places where they grow food.

These people excite me and make me believe that the garden is a beautiful place to be. Not only do they show me how to grow my garden, but many of them also show me ways to use the fruits, vegetables and herbs that I grow in my garden in my every day life.

The words and pictures in their books and on their blogs inspire me to be the best gardener that I can be.

I'm grateful to have found them and I hope you feel the same way after you've read this post.

Ready? Let’s go for it!

In no particular order (simply because I take something from every one of these wonderful gardeners):

Mentor #1: HomeGrownHappiness

Elien is from Wellington in New Zealand and I love her relaxed style of gardening. I also love that Elien is in New Zealand (where I live) even if she is at the other end of the North Island.

She gardens in a small, suburban back yard that has (like so many properties in Wellington) a great big hill behind that shades part of her garden.

I think she loves cooking as much as she loves gardening and that's a heady mix right there.

Elien skilfully manages to grow an abundant crop in her tiny space, by carefully timing what and where she plants. I've also been inspired by Elien's dogged determination to reduce her lawn area and turn the space into productive no-dig gardens.

She also has the cutest chickens!

Elien is a fan of sourdough and also loves cooking what she grows in her garden. She practices a 'root to tip' cooking philosophy which helps to make everything that she grows go further in the kitchen.

That means, not only is Home Grown Happiness full of Elien's fabulous gardening tips, but her website is also a wealth of cooking knowledge too.

Did I mention the photos? The photographs on Elien's website are beautiful and it's well worth a visit, just to look at the stunning way she presents the food that she grows and makes.

Elien documents her garden journey on her YouTube channel and it's wonderful taking monthly trips through her garden and watching the space evolve.

Elien can be found at her website here

Mentor #2: Lovely Greens

Tanya Anderson describes herself as an " gardener, soap maker, beekeeper, and green living enthusiast..." She lives on the Isle of Man which is located in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland.

Random fact: The island is not part of the United Kingdom but its inhabitants are British citizens.

Tanya advocates growing things in the garden that not only nurture your body, but also nurture your soul. This deep connection with the things that she grows and makes comes through in Tanya's website and her YouTube videos.

Tanya has a huge allotment garden (alongside her home garden) so there's plenty of space for her to grow the raw materials that she needs for the beautiful crafts that she'll show you how to make.

Tanya makes me want to rush out and harvest all my herbs and turn them into beautiful soaps and salves and body washes.

You can find Tanya at her website here

Mentor #3: Charles Dowding

Charles has a wealth of no-dig gardening experience which he shares on his website and via his YouTube channel and courses.

Charles shares his knowledge from his beautiful garden, Homeacres in the United Kingdom. I won't lie, there might just be a tiny bit of me that yearns for the Homeland ( I was born in the UK and emigrated to New Zealand when I was a child) and perhaps Charles' gentle style and his picturesque English vegetable garden plug that gap in my heart.

He also has an amazing tunnel house and an even more amazing greenhouse where he'll guide you through planting anything from beetroot through to peas and lettuce in his own no-dig, close planting style.

Every year, Charles runs two gardens side-by-side, one no dig and one where he digs over the soil. Every year (without fail) the no-dig garden has out performed the dug over garden with the amount of produce grown.

I've watched hours of video on Charles' YouTube channel and Charles also provides us antipodean gardeners with a handy southern hemisphere monthly planting guide.

If you want to know more about Charles and his methods, you'll find his website here

Mentor #4: Morag Gamble

Morag lives and works a permaculture life. She is the driving force behind 'Our Permaculture Life' and she lives an off-grid lifestyle in sub-tropical Australia.

With Australia being a 'near neighbour' to New Zealand, I'm also interested in Morag's sub-tropical gardening techniques. Residing in north Auckland, I am able to grow a number of plants and vegetables that enjoy a sub-tropical climate.

Morag's get-in-there-and-go-for-it attitude inspires me to do more for myself and the planet.

I also love permaculture principles. The idea that if I sit back, watch and let nature 'do her thing' the garden will grow amazingly well appeals to me.

Morag has helped me look at the relationships my plants have with each other. She's encouraged me to leave things alone and let the bugs and the birds and the plants find their own comfortable level living with each other.

It's mainly through Morag's guidance that I've learned to relax with my gardening. I don't have the 'tidiest' plot, but my back garden is a haven for bugs and birds and all kinds of little critters that I wouldn't have thought about providing habitat for before.

If you want to know more about Morag's permaculture life, you'll find her website here

Mentor #5: Stephanie Hafferty

I found Stephanie via Charles Dowding. They have written a beautiful book together. Stephanie is living the kind of life that I aspire to living--I basically want to be her when I grow up!

Stephanie describes herself as " organic no dig kitchen gardener, plant-based cook, award winning author, small scale homesteader and mum of three."

Aside from the fact that I'm a mum of two (and I haven't actually won any awards for my writing...yet!), the sentence above could actually describe me :-) so I could describe myself as being half-way to where I want to be.

Stephanie also resides in the UK and practices no-dig gardening. Truly people, no-dig is so much less work, so much better for the soil *rant over*

There is an abundance of 'plot to plate' plant based recipes on the site, but if that isn't enough for you, you can also buy Stephanie's amazing books.

The coloured line drawings on her website are adorable and drew me in immediately.

If you want to know more about Stephanie you'll find her website here


These wonderful people have each in their own individual ways influenced my no-dig, homesteading, plant based eating journey.

There is incredible joy to be had in the garden, not just from what you grow, but also the actions of the growing and harvesting.

So, if you're interested in following my own journey, make sure that you subscribe to my newsletter to get regular monthly updates on what's happening in my suburban, no-dig backyard.


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