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The No-Dig Children’s Gardening Book

Authored by Charles Dowding
Illustrated by Kristyna Litten
Published by Welbeck Publishing Group

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The No-Dig Children’s Gardening Book:

There have been recent calls on social media for gardening to play more of a role in primary school education, advocates pointing out the health and emotional benefits of nature and the outdoors, along with a need for the development of self-sufficiency and the chance to explore scientific concepts in a practical, hands-on way. Dowding’s well-structured non-fiction text, aimed at children and families and warmly illustrated by Litten, details his simple ‘no-dig’ approach in a clear and child-friendly manner that would certainly act as an entry point to schools wishing to integrate gardening into their curriculum, or perhaps offer it as an after-school activity.

Rather than using labour intensive techniques such as digging, the ‘no-dig’ approach encourages mulching an area of land and covering with compost. Throughout the book are step-by-step activities that can be carried out by adults and children in tandem. There is also an emphasis on the sensory, which may be relevant and helpful for both adults and children with additional needs. The text is complemented by full-bleed photography, colourful illustrations and fully illustrated factual spreads making it easy to follow and highly accessible.

What makes the book particularly attractive to a primary school audience is the combination of the practical elements with the scientific explanations. And so, we receive advice on how to make compost, for example, along with discussions of what soil is, what amazing creatures live in it and what makes it healthy. Areas of the science curriculum the book could contribute to are ‘Plants’ in KS1, ‘Animals’ in KS2 and ‘Living Things and their Habitats’ in both KS1 and KS2. Most pleasing to this reader are the sections on how to attract wildlife to your garden (with its discussion of habitat creation and food chains) and upcycling (in which ideas spark about what leftover materials could be used in the construction of a new ‘no-dig’ garden). There may also be opportunities for geography fieldwork to be carried out in school gardening areas, of course. All considered, if schools are tempted to go down the gardening path, The No-Dig Children’s Gardening Book will make a good companion.