Monday, 24 October 2011

Soil Woes

Many plants planted out in late Winter and early Spring have sat in the ground not doing much at all.  And while the Food Forest flourishes, the large central garden beds with their ‘new’ trucked-in soil have proven as less than ideal growing environments for our seedlings and fledging germinated seeds.  Even the rhubarb and potatoes don’t look very happy (see below)!

Potatoes not doing much at all in the front garden bed
Sad looking rhubarb
Our solutions?
  • Broad Beans - At the very first planting day hundreds of broad bean seeds were planted as nitrogen fixers and as a ‘green manure’ crop.  Many of these plants will be shortly chopped down, as they are flowering, and added to the soil (by both digging in and some as a mulch).
Digging in broad beans -  October 2011
  • Manure – well rotted cow manure has been added to the bed and Dynamic Lifter has been added as fruit trees and fruiting plants are put into the ground.
  • Worm Tunnels – Charlie is leading an experiment with in-garden-bed composting worm tunnels.
Worm tunnel
  • Organic Matter – We are going to ‘bury’ a mass of green waste, no-dig garden bed style, in some areas of the garden to build the organic matter in the soil and encourage soil life.  Stay tuned to find out how this goes!
  • Mulching – we were lucky to score some hay bales which have, along with some pea-straw, been laid as mulch to help prevent weeds, reduce evaporation and to add organic matter to the soil as it decomposes.
Of course a massive dose of compost would solve much of our soil woe and we would love a huge delivery of beautiful compost!  BUT, at this early stage of the garden we are without a budget and have only the beginnings of a healthy composting system.  Plans are afoot to increase the amount of green waste we can compost, including connecting with local cafes and constructing compost bays for garden waste.

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