47 Comments
May 5Liked by Morgoth

Great article.

One of Charles Dowding's videos described his composting system with the volumes and I was able to calculate that he covers the ground with about 2-3 inches of compost each year. He gets a lot of it for free from the riding school he lives next door to. Therefore, all his growing is essentially in new topsoil. I.e. His method is not using the ground at all - you could do it in a tarmacked car park.

Other elements of his method are that all the work is done by unpaid interns that have been dazzled by his presentation. Ultimately the cost to buy this volume of compost or manure is way beyond what the value of the crops grown with it can be sold for. The whole thing takes a common sense idea that some people already did, then makes it a gimmick and an ideology to earn money. It is ultimately mercantile.

There are multiple levels of nuance discarded by imposing a reductionist (and also mercantile) theory. People used to break up clods when they had very clay-heavy soil - it's a response to having a particular type of soil you're trying to gradually improve. True, some did follow a prior reverse dogma before Charles Dowding where all soil had to be dug or rotavated. Bare uncovered soil is not something you find in nature, it causes some issues that may need to be dealt with by gardeners. One of the questions I wondered about on this topic is, why do all commercial farmers use the 'dig' method by ploughing? Surely if the no dig method works in the way it is sold, somebody in England since the 1400's would have tried it and discovered how much more profitable it is. But not one commercial farmer apart from Charles Dowding using it?

Unfortunately we live in a world far too complex to understand in it's actual form, and all of us seek heuristics to make it more manageable. We usually seek out the opinion of someone more thorough (or convincing) than us to get advice dispensed and save time.

There is a channel called 'RED Gardens' that I learnt a lot from. He has very little ego and just experiments and shows you how it turned out. He doesn't try to over-process what he's done and add layers of gloss and pizazz. He just does it and shows you what happened with no gimmicks.

Ultimately the thing I love about gardening is the journey where I learn from my own observation, and also the connection of seeing things change and develop as I try to make things grow well. Gardening tube sometimes gets in the way of this for me.

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Brilliant comment, Mke. I hadn't considered Dowding's overheads to profit ratios. I can imagine his brand allows him to sell to fancy restaurants who can make a thing of his name on their menus. A luxury that very few of us have.

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founding
May 5Liked by Morgoth

Never heard of this concept. As someone who doesn´t know too much about gardening, the obvious solution/compromise would appear to be to take a middle path, i.e. perhaps go easier on the digging than the radicals of that camp would have you do, but not shy away from it when it is clear that it is necessary. But what do I know?

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Well that's what I do.

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founding
May 5Liked by Morgoth

Would that be the sensible centrism of gardening?

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There's a distinction between Centrism and the Middle Path. They might be superficially similar, but there's a profound difference in attitude.

But yea, I came here to say what you said in the OP. It seems to me that we'll take a good idea that works in certain contexts, then run way too far with it, and transform into bickering camps divided between extremes. I'm not familiar with gardening, but it goes to show that this tendency emerges in all different fields.

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deletedMay 5Liked by Morgoth
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I put the seedlings into the cardboard tubes from loo rolls with compost then transplant the hole thing into top soil, the cardboard gradually breaks down and the seedling isn't disturbed very much.

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May 5Liked by Morgoth

“Well you see, we of the Reformed No Guilt Only When Necessary Diggers have our methods backed by the latest peer review….”

Dog I just want to know why my shrubs have brown spots.

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May 5Liked by Morgoth

I could’ve written this. Certainly not so succinctly, I have Asperger’s verbiage problem, and not about gardening, but this has been the story that plagued my family since we settled down early and started off. Had I written it it might have been about homeschooling, or trad Catholicism, or the Plain Mennonites ( Amish with black cars). In each of the activities or even religious communities in which we have sought belonging we have been ultimately ostracized because of people’s compelling need to have their ideas come neatly tied up and without flexibility or exceptions.

It is no new thing, though the internet has put it on steroids and endlessly multiplied the subjects which can be policed for purity. We taught our children to think for themselves and to evaluate ideas on how well they fit with both logic and reality. Since reality is seldom logical this requires judgement and judgement, as Theodore Dalrymple would say, requires prejudices, or one goes out into the world naked, so to speak. These same prejudices while useful in deciding not to walk through bad neighborhoods or ride public transit after dark must bend when meeting inevitable contradictions. Viewing the world though only one lens is not sufficient, and to do otherwise is to fall afoul of those who prefer both ideology and purity to logic and reality.

We and our now adult children continue to find it hard to fit in, friendships acquired only with great effort crumble when others find “their” perfect belief system, political, religious, dietary, etc. To attack it, even mildly, to point out that medieval peasants did, in fact, work sometimes and were not celebrating the saint of the day every day, that uncovering new devotions is not like Pokémon , you don’t have to catch them all. To feel that all immigrants are not evil, though many are and we could certainly do better to absorb far fewer and more carefully, is too nuanced a position for mamy on the right to accept.

A timely and beautifully written piece. The danger is that when people find their neatly packaged POVs dont quite explain everything they move on to another, in the end they give up believing in anything which is itself a nihilistic trap.

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Within the British isles ethno-nationalism has the issue of us all being mixed up, but on the other hand we need a way to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the world.

We get glimpses into the same drive to dogma.

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May 5Liked by Morgoth

Exactly. And how do you distinguish between the thugs who arrived literally yesterday from am Indian family who are on their third or fourth generation born in England? To deny that they are British is ridiculous, to equate them with yesterday’s arrival is insulting, but to act as if Englishmen don’t exist, a nation which once ruled the world through intrepid if mercenary skill and daring, but Palestinians do, a nation which never was and which has accomplished nothing, is insane. These things require nuance and compromise, dirty words today.

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Alas the third Gen Indians do not share your rosy views. They define themselves as Indian not British and certainly not European. It is the imports keeping their old culture alive, including sending their son's back to the old country for brides. Rishi Sunak's kids don't have English names, for example.

The indigenous Brits have in fact worked much harder to assimilate them than they have. They openly admit this incidentally. Oil and water.

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May 5·edited May 5

I was making an unwarranted assumption based on America’s immigrants. No one is willing to admit how large a part Christianity plays in all of this. It is why native Brits feel reflexively that they have to be welcoming and non judgmental to the point of self destruction, while other non Christian cultures take what they want and leave the rest to fend for themselves. The attitude of the wealthy class of Indians even here toward the poor is disturbing. They feel that they deserve their low status, and by contrast that they are superior because of their wealth. It is the antithesis of Christianity.

My daughter used to tutor wealthy Asian students. They would usually say that they wanted to be a doctor and when asked why cited the money to be made, especially in the specialties. They never mentioned helping people as a motive. My husband works with Indian programmers. They are technically accomplished but completely unable to enter imaginatively in what the programs are designed to do, or to relate to the end user’s needs.

I also thought that it was mainly the Pakistani’s that rejected the British culture and that other, earlier immigrants had more respect, especially since they would’ve come when there was still so much to admire.

I stand corrected, and sadder, since India is one of the countries that has benefited most from the “terrible crimes of colonialism”.

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Some high IQ Indians get it. But Indians famously recreate India wherever they go and are resistant to assimilation of any type. They will literally reject the food. It is India or nothing.

A country is not a territory, it is a people. We have forgotten this and the Indians have not.

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Indeed. You can take the Indian out of India...

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"How pervasive is such thinking, not at the macro level, but in our private lives? How many of us are our own Agenda 2030s without realizing it?"

I was just watching this (great podcast, not political by any means, but have been following them for a while):

https://youtu.be/8_f8Oq17NJc?si=eyI-LA6j_RwUHxi7

And the author they interview, a heavy metal guitarist turned conspiracy theorist and psychonaut, has written an entire book from the perspective of Jungian psychology on exactly this principle. Essentially, we live in a holoarchy (as above, so below), and the reason our world is under the influence of these maniacs is because we have that inside of us, too. That also means that we can use our observations of the world to shine an introspective spotlight on our own failings, and correct them. The more people who do that, the weaker the system becomes.

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May 5Liked by Morgoth

Good to see you've finally encountered the no dig question, Morgs. I'm ashamed to say that I did once leave a "do you even no dig, bro?" comment on one of Mossy Bottom's videos 😅

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May 5·edited May 5Author

Hahaha

That Mossy Bottom chap is odd. His channel seems like more of a real estate pitch.

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You could do a gardening stream with Styx, he's a gardener (I find it hard to imagine him in wellies and sensible clothes...). I find it strange how furious people get about what were once prosaic everyday activities; it's as if, as the activity becomes a Hobby or Lifestyle it attracts all these petty ideological energies, to the point of mania. Hard to imagine our ancestors getting so emotional about such questions.

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I had no idea there was such a thing as gardening orthodox communautarism.

Reminds me of that one Reddit post about the toaster-fucking community

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May 8Liked by Morgoth

Amateur gardener here. One aspect of gardening that is often lost in the online back and forth is that effective gardening methods are extremely dependent on climate, soil, rainfall, sunshine and planetary hemisphere! All these vary enormously from place to place. What works great for one gardener in one location is pure plant death to another gardener in another place. What I have found very effective is to talk to other gardeners in your local area and see what works for them and what doesn't. They share your conditions. Some guy on youtube does not.

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I try to be understanding of my fellow man, but stuff like this makes it very hard. My earliest experience with this to where I was conscious of it were the PlayStation-Xbox wars of the early 2010's. Same games on both consoles but the two sides had to be at each other's throats the whole time because of their choice of plastic electronic game box. I then entered a nihilistic phase to which I am almost now free from.

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May 6Liked by Morgoth

I remember everyone laughing at the cardboard on the ground with compost on during that Chaz autonomous zone thing (was that during the Summer of Floyd? It all merges together like old Bond films) but when I looked in to it it did seem to make sense. I'll still be digging my garden though, the effort invested feels much more rewarding.

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It's funny to think about that now. Looking at the pictures, they must have had about £200 worth of compost, to grow a couple of lettuces haha

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May 6Liked by Morgoth

I remember the disaster that was the Chaz garden! However, the logic for no-dig was sound - the park they were occupying was on a former industrial site so the soil was toxic.

Not as toxic as the crazed junkie who tore all the plants up in a drug-fuelled frenzy, but still...

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founding
May 5Liked by Morgoth

Have you tried tempting the slugs with bowls of beer? They fall in= dead

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Yes, it became a mulch of non descript awfulness without any slugs in. Sadly.

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May 6Liked by Morgoth

The environmental movement is a great example of a movement that has been captured by dogma. We must litter the American interior with ineffective wind-turbines or to mandate the use of toxic electric-cars for no apparent reason except to adhere to a prescribed solution that was created in a tower of Orthanc, miles from the nearest greenery, by people that have never turned a shovel or felled a tree.

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May 6Liked by Morgoth

There is sound science behind no till. The microbial life and mycelium networks drive fertility of the soil. Exposing them to light or tearing them up by tilling is not optimal. However, in my case I have clay soil no till is not a good idea at first. So I amend the soil, turn it over by tilling and after 2 or 3 years, that patch is amended. Then I proceed to avoid tilling as much as possible. I'm not dogmatic about it, but I understand that once the soil.is amended, fertility is enhanced by not disturbing the microbial communities if possible.

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May 5Liked by Morgoth

Nonissue. Hugelkultur is the official compost of hyperboria!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%BCgelkultur

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May 5·edited May 5Liked by Morgoth

I was saying to myself only the other day, for God sake , I hope Morgoth doesn't go and do a Lysenko with this gardening thing

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