Thursday, June 21, 2012

Normal Service To Be Resumed Shortly

One aspect of running an allotment or a food garden of any sort is that now and then you're going to have to give it up for a time. Since Spring I've done nothing with my allotment and very little in the garden.

At the start of the year I left my job of twelve years - which readjusted my schedule significantly. Having set out on my own, I've been working round the clock pretty to build up work, start a new project or two and make some cash - to quote George W, so I can "put food on my family." It's going well so far, but the allotment has missed me as a result.

So no spare hours for food growing this year. The Council have even sent a threatening letter to take my allotment off me because I've done so little work up there. And that's their right if it's looking too scraggly. Also the weather has been pretty awful - enough to head me off at the pass on those days I have had free and allocated to Plot 34.

Normal Service to Be Resumed 

I've scattered a load of well matured manure around up there and have let the grass grow because the soil definitely needs a rest. I've been hammering that ground for six years now, hauling great big crops of potatoes, carrots et all from it and the ground needs to get itself back on balance. Despite manuring, the colour has been fading from the soil and it's become a little ashen.

When you're growing a lot of root crops over a number of years, no amount of rotation, manuring and so forth is going to help get that balance back.

I don't believe that fertilizers and manure alone provide true grounds for organic recovery. I've learned enough about soil these last few years to know that it needs to rebuild its stock of micro organisms. 

No ground can be exposed to the elements year in year out without becoming damaged. The natural state of soil isn't to be exposed to the elements - in fact, what we call "weed coverage" is its true natural state. Now the weeds are helping to cover it up and shelter the tiny insects and microbes who will come back into it to do their thing.

Unlike a farmer I don't have spare fields to "rest" them for a year or two. So given my recent recession era schedule, it's as good a time as any to rest that ground.

It doesn't mean I haven't been growing. In the garden the strawberries are starting to ripen up and I've a fine batch of cabbage and broccoli underway. The onions are doing well and up at Plot 34 you still can't stop the fruit bushes doing their thing. My radishes bolted - probably because I put them in the greenhouse - thinking I could "hot house" them along. Good to know I still get some things wrong and that there's still more to learn.