IF YOU have ever wondered whether ‘no-dig gardening’ really works then look at Jack and Fi harvesting Swiss chard and wonder no longer.

Back in April their half acre market garden was pasture and just three months later they are harvesting their first crops to sell at the Derwen Farm Shop in Guilsfield and are about to start a weekly vegetable box scheme.

I walked along rows filled with the black kale cavalo nero, Chinese cabbage, lettuce and rocket, carrots, courgettes and summer squashes in flower.

Herbs such as parsley and coriander were ready to be picked and pot marigolds and nasturtiums stood sentinel at the end of each row.

Jack stooped down and ran the mixture of horticultural compost and green waste through his fingers and gave me a lesson in no-dig gardening and the logic behind it for the earth beneath our feet is host to a network of beneficial microscopic organisms that we disrupt and destroy when we dig.

Kraft paper lies beneath the thick mulch and on top of the close mown grass which has already rotted down beneath that. Plugs from the poly-tunnel that runs alongside the beds are simply dibbled into the mulch where the roots grow down through the decomposed kraft paper into the earth.

The mulch not only suppresses weeds but allows the soil to remain moist.

We moved on to the poly-tunnel where seed sowing goes on at the far end with both sides of the poly-tunnel being taken up by cucumbers. A great tub of ‘Tumbling Tom’ tomatoes greeted us as we walked past a seemingly endless central bed of tomato plants.

Jack told me that he and Fi had worked on a commercial tomato farm in Australia for several months before moving on to a series of organic farms.

If the commercial farm had been a lesson in how not to grow crops the organic farms confirmed a desire to work with nature and learn all that they could about growing without chemicals.

Creating a market garden has been a steep learning curve and in this their first season they are playing it safe with conventional crops planted in blocks but Jack told me that they are interested in ‘chaos planting’ where compatible species are muddled together to support one another and make it more difficult for pests to home in on a particular species.

There was one innovation that took me by surprise although we needed to enter the barn to see it.

Here oyster mushrooms were sprouting all over straw filled bags that reminded me sharply of the oyster mushrooms growing beneath Somerset House.

That afternoon I bought some of those delicate mushrooms and a great bunch of black kale from the Derwen Farm Shop which, of course, you can do too but if you want to get in touch you can find them on Instagram under rootsmarketgarden or e-mail jackdcarnell@gmail.com to see what they are up to next.