Ask not what your soil can do for you…. ask what you can do for your soil. We’ve been picking, digging and pulling crops from the ground all summer. Some of us might be planning on doing the same for most of the autumn and winter. If you haven’t got systems in place to replenish our soil, you’ll be storing up problems for yourself later. You’re not just replacing what you’ve taken out but also improving the soil so your plants do better next year. Not only will you get bigger crops, you’ll also get plants that are more resilient to pests, diseases, droughts and downpours. The three best ways I’ve found to enhance my soil are:
1 add compost – either home-made or bought in. If you aerate your soil by lifting it gently with a fork and spread a layer of compost on the soil a few weeks before you plant, the worms will incorporate it into the soil for you. Add a sprinkling of lime at the same time if your soil is acid.
2 spread mulch – you can mulch between plants whilst they’re growing or at the end of the season after you’ve pulled out the plants. Seaweed makes a wonderful mulch – it’s rich in nutrients, stays in place and is weed-free.
3 grow green manure – growing your own soil. The most common winter green manure crops are mustard and lupins, the seeds for which you can buy in most garden centres. Kings Seeds has a diverse range of green manure seeds too. Sow them now and they’ll protect the soil in empty areas of your garden during the winter and you can either chop them into the ground with a spade or add them to the compost heap in spring.
I use at least one of these techniques over all the area I cultivate at some time during the year – many beds get all three. The levels of nutrients and organic matter have improved dramatically year by year and you can see the difference in the soil and the crops. Adding fertiliser is an easy way to increase the nutrients in your soil but it does nothing for its structure.
Fifi, the calf, finally arrived today, a bit wobbly, but feeding well.
Encourage your friends to join this mailing list if they want to be in with a chance to win the weekly draw for a box of fresh produce in Wellington. Johnsonville School has a car-boot sale on Saturday from 10am – 2pm with native plants for sale, a bake table, face-painting sessions, lucky dip and sausage sizzle