Category Archives: Uncategorized

Compost bin modifications

The compost at the bottom of bin 2 has always been very wet. When it was emptied last week the reason became obvious, there was a very thin layer of soil on top of solid rock. It might be possible to break it up and remove it but instead a false floor was made. The holes in the bottom slot in board is a trial of controlling the air flow through the heap.

The timber false floor made from old pallets

The two layers of chicken wire was covered with a layer of dry twigs to prevent material falling through.

The bin was filled with a mixture of grass cuttings and shredded tree prunings. Within 24 hours the core temperature had risen to 55C and the next day was 73C which is too high. After making some air holes through the contents the temperature dropped to 69C and is still falling. The ideal is to hold it at around 65C for 3-4 days.

That is all four bins full and working which means we need extra composting space as there is already the start of a pile of general garden waste waiting for shredding. Happy days!

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Fighting to save bees

Beyer, the maker of neonicotinoid pesticides that have killed vast numbers of bees is taking the EU to court over the ban on it’s use. They obviously stand to lose a lot of money selling a poison that kills bees. How utterly cynical, irresponsible and downright stupid can they be?

We need to fight back because we rely on bees to pollinate plants that feed us. Without bees we are in a lot of trouble but Beyer does not care about that as long as they make a profit. It is time to stop them, please sign this petition.

There are other things we can do to help bees like not mowing all of the lawn. Leave some patches untouched to make nectar bars.

See this page for shrubs, bush fruits and trees that are good for bees.

If you have the space plant bees friendly plants go to this page on the RHS web site for more information.

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After harvest compost application

After clearing the onions and garlic the next step was to add 25mm (1 inch) of compost. Both the onions and garlic need digging out but the soil was not turned over. It was easy to use a fork to raise the bulbs and then gently remove them. Never just pull out the bulbs by the leaves as it will damage the stems which could cause the bulbs to rot during drying.

Photo: Sally Furness

The compost was made earlier this year so is about four months old. It has been sieved through a 10mm screen. The idea is to make several cubic metres of this a year so all the beds can have the same treatment. We are not quite there yet but with recent improvements to the compost mix the output should increase.  More soon on we have changed the way we make compost.

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Onion harvest

We harvested the first onion bed a couple of days ago. There were 62 in the bed which is just under a metre square. There are a few smaller bulbs but generally they are a good size.

In the 2009 square metre bed trials  the total was 8.6 kg with an average weight of 126gms. It looks like the figures for this year will be higher as the sets planted into a bed with a good layer on compost. More information when they have dried off.

The onion bed just before harvest.

The crop looks good. They will be stored for use from January next year. There are anther 40 in another bed which should be ready next month. Again, they are for storing as our post BREXIT supply.

Around 80% of onion sold in the UK are imported from EU countries, the rest come from much further afield e.g. Egypt, Kenya and Israel. It is crazy that we import so many when they could be grown here?

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Frosts in May!

It was beautiful start to the day, sunny but cool. A quick inspection of the garden at around 7AM showed frost on the lawn. It was the real stuff, white and frozen.

It was not totally unexpected especially when the wind is from the east. As the garden is near 300m ASL it is cold which makes the growing season shorter with maybe only three frost free months, June, July and August.

If you are new to growing you need to get to know your garden. Never rely on the information on the back of seed packets telling you when to sow or when to plant out. Also, popular TV garden programmes will tell you it is time to do this or plant out that. Beware, most are filmed a lot further south and your local climate may be very different.

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Germination and planning for winter!

Seeds sown direct in beds on 10 April have started to germinate – carrots, parsnips, broad beans and peas in modules. Still no sign of the leeks sown in modules but there is time enough to resow if needed.

I must admit to having never lost the fascination of seeing seeds germinate.

Now is the time to plan follow on crops for winter. Just found this book which we got several years back. This year we want to get it right so that there is food right through until next spring.

Eliot Coleman explains the four season harvest

The shocking loss of essential minerals in fruit & veg

This images below are summary of the report “A study on the mineral depletion of the foods available to us as a nation over the period 1940 to 1991.” see the PDF is here. It shows the  decrease of the mineral content of fruit and vegetables over a 31 year period.

Click an image to enlarge

The reduction in mineral content undoubtedly continued after 1991 as intensive farming practices continue to dominate food production. The way crops are grown is linked to the state of soils, in particular the poor state of farmland due to the lack of organic matter.  “Healthy soil is the foundation of the food system. It produces healthy crops that in turn nourish people.” From the FAO publication: The importance of soil organic matter

We are constantly urged to eat more fruit and vegetables yet they are becoming less nutritious.  It is time to move away from high input agrochemical farming and grow more nutritious food that really does feed people in every way.

Successive governments have been locked into promoting a type of agriculture that does not work. It is time for change and the first steps should be to increase the amount of land available for allotments, community gardens and small scale commercial growing provided that they practice sustainable growing.

Why can’t we imagine how the land feels?

This article in The Guardian raises issues that explain why the world is in the state it is. If we see the planet only as a resource to be ruthlessly exploited then we will kill ourselves and every other living organism. What we have forgotten is that everything we need we need to survive comes from the Earth.

This is particularly true of soil. If it as only seen a substrate to provide support for engineered plants that rely chemical inputs to survive then we are doomed.

The loss of soil to erosion and resulting prediction that there is only 40 years of topsoil left should be a resounding wake up call. Yet there is no panic, there are no demonstrations in the streets, there is no understanding of what it means.

How supermarkets create food waste from field to table

The article is full of information about waste in the supermarket food chain. What is surprising is that a lot of waste comes from farmers over producing for fear of not being able to supply.

Riverford founder Guy Singh-Watson has openly spoken about his experiences in the 90s: “When I used to supply the supermarkets you generally grew about a third more than you thought you would sell, just to make sure that the supermarket buyer didn’t have a tantrum if you ran short, and so routinely, you have more than you can sell and so you just mow it off and plough it in – that’s the normal thing to do.”

The overriding issue is how supermarkets have come to dictate the whole agricultural industry.

See the article here on the Wicked Leaks web site