Friday, October 19, 2012

Polytunnel, bio-dynamics, companion planting


We're really pleased with what we've achieved in the veg garden so far. There's been plenty of failures and difficulties but plenty of successes too, a good first year. Things that didn't do well were tatties, peas, mange tout, swiss chard and spinach amongst other things. Other UK growers we chat too have mostly found it a difficult year with the endless damp and we've had problems with eel worm or wire worm and also with rats and mice. The successes have been peppers, chile peppers, tomatoes, herbs, strawberries, onions, celery, leeks, courgettes, beans and sweetcorn. It's nice to remember that many of the plants started off life on Ruth's windowsill back down in College Road. Well done us! 
Ruth's window-ledge nursery back in College Road

Ruth's tomato-polyculture: companion planting of toms with basil and flowers mulched with straw - great idea, easy to maintain and very productive

Chile peppers galore
Volunteers Ian and Alan working on the final, middle row of beds in the tunnel with Wes and I "helping"
If you plan and set up a good system of paths, gates, fences, raised beds, composting bins, polytunnels etc etc right from the start you will make life so much easier and more enjoyable for yourself. That goes for a hundred acre farm just as much as a back garden plot.
And if you're at all inclined to try growing some stuff yourself but haven't started yet just do it! I look back on all the mistakes I made back on my allotment and realise now that it was all a great way to learn, your garden soon teaches you if you're prepared to look and listen and it's really easy to research stuff via the internet now - above all, the greatest journey begins with a single step...

Some of it might seem pretty wacky at first sight but the more you look into it the more it makes sense. The cow horn procedure boosts all-important bacterial soil activity
This is one of the most interesting avenues we've been exploring in the garden here. It's about timing your gardening according to the phases of the Moon and the position of the planets, and much more. I know some people (who could well be a bit more open-minded for their own good) who dismiss the whole thing as superstitious nonsense but just think of the effect of the Moon on the oceans. Every drop of water on the Earth is being pulled and released in the tides so surely it follows that this will be true for water in plants and the ground just as much as the seas. I wonder if it's partly how water is drawn up into trees as I think I've read that this can't be fully explained by capillary attraction. My friends Steve and Caryn at Quinta Cabeca de Mata in Portugal have been working with Bio-Dynamics for years with such interesting results that they now do more and more in this way, even harvesting wood for buildings. We're going to need all the help and deeper and understanding we can get as we power-down from the Oil Age so lets check out everything that comes our way with open hearts and minds - maybe that's the biggest possible first step.

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