Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Blog September 2019

It's Spring at last and my winter vegetables are growing well.  The tallest of these Broad Beans are over 1 metre high and are starting to set pods.  The peas behind them are nearly 2 metres high and almost finished.
This bed is filled with Alliums and Beets and a few other vegetable types.  There are 11 different varieties all together in this 1.5m x 2.55m Ecobed.  This is part of a new strategy where no dig techniques are enhanced by high density and high diversity plantings.  The main criteria in the bed now, when planting a new group of seedlings is, will there be enough direct sunlight? and are the new plants compatible with their neighbours?
My 40 Dutch Cream potatoes are almost all up out of the ground in this Ecobed.  The soil was well prepared in early Autumn with a sowing of green manure, and later, a generous layer of compost was applied after the green manure had been cut down.  Despite this I wont grow a green manure next year.

For nearly 3 years I have produced about 250 litres a month of home made compost, most of which is used on my vegetable beds.  Soil fertility is very high, and although not tested I believe I have an appropriate balance of beneficial microbes and other soil food web participants in my soil.  I conclude that a green manure is an unnecessary cost in money time and effort, and I would be far better off growing other vegetables in the space to boost my overall output, and still keep the soil healthy.

I also believe that crop rotation, which is said to prevent plant pathogen build up and depletion of minerals in the soil, tends to be hard to manage without leaving gaps in the planting schedule, and is unnecessary in healthy organic soil.  I wont be rotating my vegetables in the foreseeable future, and will rely on the soil food web to control pathogens and ensure plants get adequate supplies of minerals appropriate to their needs.
During winter, I removed a very healthy and productive olive tree to make way for drip line irrigated vegetable beds.  Its a shame really, but it was producing far more than we could possibly use and was outgrowing its allotted space in our small garden.  I cut the tree to the ground and used its branches, fruit and leaves in my thermal composter.

The soil was very rich and healthy even before I prepared it, but I still put down a double layer of cardboard to suppress growth of under-story plants, and covered it with compost and straw mulch.

The vegetables planted in the area are fit and healthy and growing quickly for this time of year (the fleece helps).  

I removed a lot of ornamental perennials in this area when my fence was replaced earlier in the year.  Its a substantially higher fence than before and we will be testing the effect of increased shade before we commit to new ornamentals.  Meanwhile we will be growing vegetables in the area.  These dwarf Broad Beans are growing well in the drip line irrigated organic soil.
The Silverbeet (Swiss Card) and dwarf Cauliflower are growing well in the same bed despite getting hardly any direct winter sunlight.